It has become a common theme in the gadget industry for something to gain tremendous momentum when Apple introduces their version of a product. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad have all done remarkably well despite not being the first of their kind. Apple’s success comes from a couple of key areas, namely their brand name and uncanny ability to take something to the next level. Usually. But as much as Apple’s reputation might have one believe that every product the company creates is flawless, there are still instances where an Apple product may not reach as far as others, one of them being the Apple Watch.
That isn’t to say that the Apple Watch isn’t successful in its own right. It’s still the number one selling smartwatch on the market, with 11.9 million estimated Apple Watches sold in 2016 (49% market share of smartwatches). A recent remark by Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed that Apple Watch sales are up 50% so far this year, showing that the gadget is still making headway. However, with more than 700 million iPhone users worldwide, a 50% increase in sales at this point in the year from the estimated 11.9 million in 2016, plus the estimated 12 million from 2015, means that the Apple Watch is only used by around ~4.7% of Apple users. Considering the Apple Watch can only pair with the iPhone and no other Apple products, in the grand scheme of things it’s a pretty small pool of people that can use Apple Watch, and even smaller pool that actually do. (Update: I'm not good at math or statistics and have had to rework my statement here, which previously only drew from the number of iPhone users in the U.S.)
I’ve always been wary of smartwatches personally. It took me about 4 years to even attempt try one, which opened my eyes to their usefulness, but almost a year later and I can’t remember the last time I put the smartwatch on. They can be useful, but they’re not that useful. Pebble got it right by creating a smartwatch with a 7-day battery life, but I still had to keep my phone nearby to ensure that I continued receiving notifications. Furthermore, it was uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time because it was bulky and blocky. It always seems like there’s a trade-off or a compromise, and you usually end up shelling out a good chunk of money regardless.
Despite my personal disinterest in smartwatches, I knew that one day they would be in a better position to be more useful, and that day may come sooner rather than later as it was recently rumored from Mac Rumors that the next Apple Watch might feature both LTE data and an all-new form factor. I won’t delve much into the LTE aspect in this article, but my fellow editor Evan had a few interesting thoughts on it. What really caught my interest was the “new form factor” bit, which I hope means that the watch is more comfortable to wear. Right now I just find them too bulky and blocky, too noticeable. Manufacturers are still trying to find creative and frustrating methods of shaving off millimeters on smartphones, which seems like a frivolous move at this point. Smartwatches are what need those improvements right now, not smartphones.
It would be a tricky trade-off as it is. Evan hoped that the implementation of LTE was delayed until Series 3 so that battery life wouldn’t be affected by the implementation, and most rumors until this most recent one did mention that Apple was working on increasing the battery life. So, although it feels like a bit unrealistic to hope for, it’s possible that Apple managed to implement LTE, a more comfortable wearable, and solid battery life all-in-one.
Again, it’s a far-fetched hope that hangs on a thread, but it would be amazing. Heck, any one of these features would be a pretty big step in the right direction. Personally, I’m in no hurry to replace the Pebble I still having laying around somewhere, but I do suspect that it won’t be too far in the future where smartwatches will start to gain more traction, especially if they can operate without the help of a smartphone, are comfortable to wear, and have long-lasting battery life. I would consider buying a new smartwatch if it checked off those three boxes.
I’ve never really been that excited about a smartwatch release yet, but rumors of these potentially ground-breaking changes coming to the third generation Apple Watch definitely piqued my interest this time around. Readers, what are your thoughts on the rumors? Do you hope that Apple is cooking up something big for the next gen Apple Watch? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!