Is it time for the iWatch?


Since they announced the date for the iPhone 6 press launch, much of the detail of the new phone has been fairly comprehensively leaked through the technology press, rendering it a news event with surprisingly little news to offer. Yet, mysteriously, the world is anticipating 9th September with breathless excitement.

Respect to Apple. It has something to do with an oblique announcement that something else is also going to be mentioned. We are now all excitedly speculating on Apple’s latest piece of wearable technology, dubbed the iWatch, and whether it will be revealed.

While technophobes will be asking why the human race needs to wear its technology anyway, there are others who are asking whether now really is the right time to launch another smart wristband. They have a point because, in spite of being dubbed “year of wearable technology”, 2014 has in fact been a little bit of a disappointment so far.

Two of the leading brands have withdrawn products and other major vendors have undergone long delays in launching – or have introduced new devices with barely a whimper. According to recent research by Gartner “wearable user interfaces” are coming off the “peak of inflated expectation” ready to slide into the “trough of disillusionment”. What is more, Gartner predicts that wearables won’t become truly main stream for at least five years.

Humbug. It’s far too easy to be cynical about new technology. Just a few years ago, there were plenty of pundits who asked why anyone needed a mobile that could do more than make a phone call. And plenty more who questioned in what circumstances anyone would ever use a tablet. This does not mean that every brand and every version of the new smart watch genre will be a success. It certainly won’t be. But wearable technology is here and, like the proverbial genie, it will not go back in its box.

Certainly, a myriad of companies would appear to agree. There is a Sony SmartWatch and the Samsung Galaxy Gear as well as the Cookoo Watch, Martian Smartwatch and Best Smartwatch of 2014 winner, the Pebble Smartwatch, to name but a few. Variations exist in design and function but the general principles are the same.

Historically, when innovative technology is being developed, there is often a rush of similar designs, all of which appear to have some worth, before the eventual winner emerges. When Henry Ford developed the order of pedals on the floor of his Model T, it was one of many arrangements. Now we could not countenance any other layout. Anyone who weighed up the merits of Betamax and VHS and opted for the former will understand the problem only too well.

As with the world of smart phones and tablets, there will be innovators and copiers over the next few years. Apple is very likely to be one of the innovators but, from past experience, we know that it is only the most successful elements of any design that are copied and it is through this symbiotic process that products develop and mature.

Even if Gartner is correct and we have to wait five years for smart watches to become truly main stream, it does not stop us pioneering gadget-lovers from having fun with this first generation of products. And, just for the record, we at Admiral can’t wait to see the iWatch.