Sunday, November 2, 2014

Apple watch

Apple's new watch:
  • The watch does not fit under a shirt sleeve, so cant be a dress watch.
What can you do with it?
  • See incoming messages or calls on your wrist.
  • Open hotel doors and act as a boarding pass.
  • Use ApplePay.
  • Provide turn-by-turn walking directions.  And it could be done silently, by buzzing your wrist.
  • You can place your finger on the watch and send your heartbeat to someone.  Not very useful.
  • Fitness tracking: calorie counting steps moved - pretty standard stuff.

Why would you use it for?  We're not sure, there's no real reason for its existence yet.  Maybe:
  • The watch buzzing on your wrist may prevent phantom phone calls.  (I get this when I'm on call).
  • Can it remind you of things?  If you're going outside and its raining (bring an umbrella), or if you're passing buy a shop and need to buy something.
  • It can wake you up in the morning.  And not your wife.
  • It gives you directions to walk around town without bumping into people because you're looking at your phone.
At the moment, its main use is to stop you looking at your phone so much.  Cut a lot of little annoyances out of your life.

Will this overturn the watch industry?  The threat is not from the Apple Watch itself, but from the continuous innovation (or copying) that this may start.  Someone may write a killer app that makes enough people buy it.  The Apple watch may eventually replace the iPhone.   No matter how timeless, elegant or expensive a wristwatch is, if enough people get used to glancing at and feeling feedback from their smart watches, it becomes a necessity.  Like a smartphone today.

And for pricing, Apple has taken aim at the luxury watch market. It's prices start at $349 for the sports watch.  A stainless steel watch is also being released, and a 18K solid gold (not plated) one.  The last will probably cost over 5K.

Watches have a long history, and are now the only piece of jewelry a man can wear.  But you can only wear one watch at a time.  We need to wait and see if there is a compelling enough reason for mass adoption of smart watches.  Right now, I give it a 50/50 chance. The mechanical watch industry may die in 10 years.

Buying shares in Swatch or Richemont now may be like buying Nokia or Blackberry in 2007.  Even though Swatch is cheap at less than 14X earnings, its too risky. Too bad: I really liked these companies, but have to scratch them off my buy list.


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