When Tim Cook introduced the Apple Watch it was clear sign that the wearables and smartwatch market was entering the next stage in its maturity. While still in its infancy it highlighted that a company with a history of providing remarkable user experience acknowledged this market’s potential.
With my Customer Experience and Digital Marketing hat on I became curious. Despite usually being a diligent follower of the never buy a first generation of Apple products rule my curiosity got the better of me. Here is what I learned from using the Apple Watch.
Understanding its purpose
After purchasing, setting up and using the device a few days it became obvious what Apple means by saying it their most personal product. You wear and can interact with it every minute while you are awake, which is echoed by Luke Wroblewski in his excellent blog post “On the Wrist“.
(Image source: LukeW)
What becomes obvious over time is that this device has more in common with a Jawbone Up, Fitbit or Nike Fuelband than a traditional timepiece. The mere difference is that all those mentioned wearables do one or two things while this one is a jack of all trades. So from this point of view I believe that Apple made a mistake to call it a watch, since it sends the wrong signals. Androids usage of the term “Wear” is more accurate. Smartwatches have the potential to be a powerful helpers attached to your wrist.
Day to day interactions with the device
After the novelty wore off, I realized that I mainly interact with the device when it alerts me to an update in a discrete fashion. It informs me on what is happening and allows me to react when for example a text message is able to be answered with a pre-defined message or a simple thumb up emoji icon. These basic interactions allow me, from a subjective point of view, to reduce my interaction with my phone to a pre-smartphone era amount. Interacting with the phone only when it is required. For example to initiate a conversation or reply with a longer reply.
Having said that the Apple Watch and the phone operate in a clear symbiosis like the smartphone or tablet does in a second-screen setup. The first screen device can be without the second but the first screen loses in importance with the introduction of the second screen.
The digital marketing potential
From a marketer’s point of view this sounds like an absolute dream: A personal device which makes the user interact immediately with notifications. However with great powers come great responsivities. I have come to realize that I have become less tolerant to irrelevant notifications on my Apple Watch than I was before on my smartphone. Further just trying to claim a spot on the home screen of the watch is not a guarantee that I will engage with your brand. This shouldn’t be news since smartphone apps should be developed under the same pretense (I hope you noticed the subjunctive in that last sentence).
Unless you as marketer don’t manage to provide relevant and timely interactions there is no benefit for me as user. Since the markets have switched to a buyer’s market a customer’s perception is always the one that counts. This implies that understanding your customer is elementary and approaching him on such a device without personalization methods or context awareness is foolish to say the least.
Imagine standing at the checkout of your supermarket and your watch automatically displays your loyalty card’s barcode. Thus eliminating the need for searching the physical card or pulling out your phone.
With this in mind a wow product on a device like this isn’t achieved with fancy animations but diligent dedication to usefulness and micro-moments.
Smartwatches are still in their infancy, which means marketers still can experiment and with the introduction of watchOS2 later this year will add further momentum. Like the iPhone 3G was the catalyst for apps and smartphones. This device category certainly has fewer hurdles to overcome and establish itself compared to products like Google Glass due to their discrete fashion. However at the end of the day it boils down to creating experiences for your customer’s which are perceived as valuable, convenient and bespoke.
With every inch the size of display shrinks this fact gains more importance. If this fails, smartwatches will become yet another gadget and XKCD’s comic will require some editing.
(Image Source: XKCD.com)
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