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Apple: Wearables will overtake iPad and Mac by 2021

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Wearables are the next big thing, according to recent reports. When I first heard the term, several years ago I envisaged wearables as smart clothes — wifi underpants or Bluetooth shirts — ready to keep you connected at all times.

I was wrong, of course. Wearables are watches, earphones, glasses and smart monitors of all descriptions. I didn’t think of that. Yet it is now big business. By 2021, Apple’s wearables, primarily the Apple Watch and sound devices such as the EarPods or PowerBeats, will overtake both the iPad and Mac in their importance to the company.

The Macfilos wearables: My fourth-generation Apple Watch and the super new PowerBeats Pro, ear pods that stay podded

Time was, back in the seventies, when “software” and “hardware” were bandied around as new computer terms.

Most of us hadn’t got a clue, and it was only much later than we began to realise what the terms meant. Similarly, wearables haven’t yet hit the public consciousness as a genre.

People like their watches, their ear pods and their fitness bands but don’t really think of them as “wearables”. They will, soon.

Hooked, line and sinker

Me, I’m hooked already. In the picture, you see my fourth-generation Apple Watch and the latest PowerBeats Pro. The PowerBeats are bigger and more cumbersome than the ubiquitous EarPods but, for me, they are more practical.

They stay where they are put. I once had to fish an EarPod out of the toilet bowl, an experience it survived with flying colours even if I was left a little green around the gills. I just prefer them. They have all the connection advantages of the AirPods but offer a completely different experience (and a longer battery life).

But it is the Apple Watch that has really transformed my thinking. I’ve written about it before. Regular readers will remember that I once had a penchant for Swiss Watches and, at one time, I had quite a collection — at least one for every day of the week. I even bought a watch-winder carousel to keep them primed at all times. Heaven forbid I should wake up one morning and find a watch unwound.

Yet when I got my first generation one Apple Watch I realised that I would never wear any of these classic timepieces again, not even on special occasions. The Watch is reasonably stylish and doesn’t try to make a statement, unlike the Rolexes and LeCoultres of this world. Crucially, however, it monitors the functioning of my mature frame. It does need a bit of monitoring these days.

Digital carer

While it hasn’t actually saved my life (yet), the Watch’s monitoring of heart rhythm and performance is a quiet comfort and has been used on several occasions to relay symptoms to my doctor. It even knows if I fall, which is a feature I might really need one of these days.

Bong, bong, it asks, “have you fallen?” “Are you OK or shall I call emergency.” Like a deadman’s handle on a train, it goes ahead and calls an ambulance if you don’t respond by pressing the “I’m OK” button. Magic, and it is a feature that has a real benefit. Sadly, at the moment it is mainly younger converts who are using the Apple Watch while those who really need fall protection are out in the cold.

Smartwatches are gradually taking over, and the prediction for Apple sales shows that they are growing faster than anyone thought. Sales of mid-range traditional watches have plummeted (just as sales of point-and-shoot cameras did a few years ago).

For the moment the Swiss watch manufacturers — the Leicas of the horological work — are putting on a brave face. But they will need a very brave face. When owners of their expensive hand-crafted timepieces ditch them for the classless Apple Watch they have a major problem. I’m one of them and I am by no means alone.

We are increasingly being helped by robots. Fifty years ago we envisaged human-like machines delivering cups of tea and tucking us up in bed. But the reality is different, as always. Wearables are on their way and the watches and ear pods and the smart home are just the beginning of the revolution.

Via 9to5Mac

Read: Smart Clothing can boost wearables

Read more about the Apple Watch on Macfilos

21 COMMENTS

  1. I had brief moment reading this of “cool” Wi-fi boxer shorts – then I thought, depends on what they are measuring. At that point it’s off my Xmas list. 😂

    I love my Apple Watch but sadly they are banned at work for legal reasons. So have to use old fashioned time pieces for the day job and the Apple Watch for off work time. It’s a pain, but sadly necessary.

    I wonder what I will do to tell the time of cheap watches disappear from retail. Probably the same as I did when my cheap work wall clock broke – do without.

  2. Interesting post Mike! A mechanical wristwatch is something that you can buy today and still use in a hundred years time if you take care of it. It’s built to last. I’m still using a SONY walkman which sounds as good now as it did when I bought it back in the 80’s. Unlike a digital music player I can actually make recordings on it too. The Apple iPod, a much more recent phenomenon, has been and gone. ( Well, technically they still make one but it’s not relevant anymore since most people store music on their phone ). My point is, that by comparing mechanical wristwatches with a disposable tech product with a short shelf life, you are comparing apples and oranges. People who buy Swiss watches are buying them for different reasons, they are not wanting to see notifications and alerts on their wrist.The Apple watch works like a phone or a radio and completely depends on picking up a signal, not to mention you have to charge it ( requires electrical power) every day. it has no built in mechanism or circuit capable of telling time by itself so is in fact, only a watch in name. In fact a Casio G shock is a better watch. It can tell the time all by itself, never needs charging ( solar powered) and can connect to your phone, is pretty indestructible and completely waterproof. I think you are correct Mike, the real reason to get an Appley thingy ( as you say in this post ) is for the health functions which could be a life saver for some people. It’s a great thing for sure. But at the end of the day, An Apple watch is a product which will be out of date soon after purchase and unsupported down the road. Disposable tech, unfortunately, will not be supported in the future because the software doesn’t have continuity.These products are tomorrow’s junk.Apple made a big song and dance about their new Macbook in 2015 talking about how futuristic it was. It’s already a discontinued product. That’s four years.In fact, I’ve got two Apple computers sitting here right now that I can’t use anymore and awaiting recycling because they won’t run the latest software.This is the problem with modern disposable tech. Nobody interested in buying a Jaeger Le Coultre or Rolex is going to stop buying those things because of Apple watch.And I don’t think they’ll be ditching them.The Swiss are cleverer than you think. When the Japanese tried to take all the market share with Quartz the Swiss responded with a little product called Swatch. It was huge success.Also traditional watch makers are not only Swiss, they are also German and Japanese. Seiko’s market share in high end mechanical watches is right now increasing rapidly world wide.Notice, I said mechanical watches.Hopefully, both kinds of product will co-exist. We all have two wrists so we could probably wear an Apple Watch on one and a Swiss timepiece on the other! I don’t have an Apple watch but I wouldn’t rule out getting one..just in case I fall down! I can’t help wondering if the watch will replace phones pretty soon. Do we need both?

    • Stephen, I see the Apple Watch as something other than a wristwatch. It occupies the same space but offers really computing power to enhance your life. In some ways you could compare it with a modern autofocus lens. A Leica M lens will still be around in a hundred years’ time because, like the Swiss Watch, is is wholly mechanical — as you say. However, the fight will be for the space on the wrist. There’s I one, unless you want to look like an idiot with a Rolex in one wrist, a smart watch on the other. Swiss precision mechanical watched will survive but they will be squeezed.

      • So, why do you look like an idiot with a Rolex on one wrist and a smart watch on another?

        I ask the question, because I appreciate that lots of people feel that way, but a few years ago people with headphones on looked like idiots too . . . . .

        I don’t think there is anything inherently idiotic about wearing something with quite different functionality on different wrists.

        But perhaps I’m an idiot!
        best

        • Actually, the reason I mentioned it in my rather overlong response ( sorry), is because quite a few watch enthusiasts do in fact wear different watches with different functions on both wrists, including some military staff, and usually for practical reasons too. Personally I think it looks fine. But since we are talking wearables, the wireless Apple ear phones NEVER look ok. They need to work on that design so it doesn’t look like you have broken toothbrushes or stick candy wedged in your ears! Or maybe follow Leica and always offer a black version!

  3. I’ve yet to succumb to an Apple watch – furthermore I seldom carry a smart phone unless on a day trip or photo assignment/project. Much prefer a regular watch and being a WIS have a collection of ‘proper watches’ … but for practical reasons usually only wear an ex-military CWC quartz timepiece. Fact is, Rolex sports models have ££appreciated better than most other ‘investments’ over the last 15 years so it pays to look after them. Apple watches will likely not £appreciate – and are probably destined for obsolescence within a relatively short period of time – much like early iPads. All part of the great electronic revolution into which we’re pulled by e.g. Apple’s marketing bods so as to acquire the latest gadgets. We go with the flow … or stick with what we’ve got … depending on our age, £resources, occupation and IT enthusiasm. Me? I guess I’m a bit jealous of all those who have succumbed to the Apple watch fashion … but doubt if I’d have much use for one. One of my most prized watches is a CCWMS (Coventry Cooperative Watch Manufacturing Society) pocket watch … one of the last quality watches made in Coventry c.1890 when many of the former Coventry watchmakers commenced making bicycle and motorcycle chains (the start of the Coventry motor industry) – after being forced out business by cheaper Swiss and American timepieces. Now some of the Swiss watchmakers are ‘feeling the pinch’ … partly because of Apple’s timepiece offerings. Swiss watch manufacturers faced a similar crisis in the early 1970s when quartz watch movements revolutionised the watchmaking industries … but they rose to the challenge and many brands survived. Will they survive this time? We live in strange times in a funny old world … empty shops … and for some of those who succumb to current marketing … empty pockets!

    • The Apple Watch is not an investment, it is a tool. And like all digital tools it will soon be out of date. Perhaps we shouldn’t call it a Watch and more than we call an iPhone a phone. Both are personal computers, one in the pocket, one on the wrist.

      I don’t think smartphones will continue for long as a distinct model to the iPad . The Watch can already do the communications but most people use their iPhones as portable tablets, that is small iPads. So the iphone and iPad will merge, leaving the Watch to handle monitoring and calls.

  4. When the Apple watch first appeared I swore that I wouldn’t be seen dead with one: it looked like Johnny Ive had been given his head and created a nice looking device ..but with no discernible purpose. It just reeked of Apple “going downhill” with no-one at the helm after Steve died.

    But my Beloved kept missing her appointments; she forgot to look at her computer or phone to see which meetings she had coming up. As the watch can display all that’s in your Mac Calendar – and give you a ping when your next appt’s due – I bought her an iWatch for her birthday.

    Not knowing what to get me for Christmas (a couple of years ago) my Love bought me an iWatch. So I had to wear it. And I wore ..no; wear.. it to remind her to wear hers!

    Gradually, new capabilities arrived, including the falling-over alarm. I find mine indispensable when my phone’s in my raincoat pocket and I can’t hear it ring ..but it rings on my wrist! I can even answer the call by talking into my watch! ..Unfortunately (?) it’s becoming indispensable.

    Wireless earbuds? I’ve got a couple, but can’t see the point (apart from their looking daft!) ..you’ve got to charge them; they fall out (maybe not Mike’s); they stop when the batteries are drained. (And the audio quality’s not much good ..the ones I’ve tried, anyway.)

    Wired earbuds (Sony Deep Bass something-or-others) go down to about 5Hz (..that’s very deep bass..), never need charging, never fall out, are just ‘plug’n’play’. And the sound’s so much better. No pairing, no faffing, they – to quote Apple’s slogan – “just work”.

    I still feel silly wearing the iWatch – “oh, he’s one of those” – but have now got a nice (2nd hand) miniature leather strap for it, so i can pretend that it looks more “normal” ..you know; like a mechanical watch.

    I’m still up for a Babel Fish, though, when they finally arrive..

  5. I guess I’m the inverse. I’ve tried three smart watches: an Apple Watch some years ago – gone, then a Garmin – fine (it tracked my runs easily), but it lacked something, and more recently an Apple Watch 4 – weekends for now. I keep going back to mechanical watches. The smart watches lack something and they try so hard to pester me, to remind me they are there like a tap on the shoulder (I won’t be ignored).

    On the Apple Watch 4, I like a simplified chronograph face, but I keep accidentally starting the chronograph somehow. My mechanical chronograph does not do that.

    I work in the tech industry (in a design role) and I’m surrounded by so much tech and computers and devices everyday that for time keeping I prefer something different. But more importantly, when I look at my Nomos Autobahn I feel pure joy. It’s beautiful in an interesting way and it does its job perfectly, and only its job. It’s not my only watch, but it’s my favorite. It has character.

      • Hey,I have an Orion too! That one’s a beauty. I recently acquired a Grand Seiko which has now stolen my heart. That’s the difference I guess between ‘real’ watches and functional and convenient devices that Apple makes. There is some kind of emotional thing going on with a traditional wristwatch.Having an arts background ( my job too ) I’m always going to lean in that direction but I do admire Mike for being in synch with the latest tech.

  6. I recently got an Apple 4 watch as I did not fancy wearing my more expensive and vintage Rolex/Cartiers in public (London) and sold the lot. It did feel awkward at first, from an aesthetic point of view. But now in love with it and the ability to change the watch face is fun and practical for using the different functions. Plus not having to get the phone out in public when I get a message is good.

    Yesterday, my iPhone 6s (vintage?!) microphone socket packed up and just last night I was considering those Airpods pictured above!

  7. It the risk of seeming an idiot . . ..
    I had an Apple Watch 1 and 3, but I actually don’t think I want to be that much connected . . added to which I cheated on the fitness stuff (or forgot to tell it that I’d stopped cycling / whatever). I’ve found a simple Fitbit (Charge 3) to be just fine for that, and much harder to deceive as well.

    But I’m quite happy to wear that on one wrist (my right, where it gets bashed up) and a mechanical watch on my left wrist – I splashed out when I was 65 and ordered a lovely ochs und junior moon phase watch – to my own design. I love it, and it tells the time better than the Apple Watch (even if it doesn’t ring an ambulance if I fall over).

    But my point is that God (or was it Douglas Adams) gave us two wrists, so clearly we’re intended to wear some smart device on one of them and something mechanical which gives real pleasure on the other. . . .

  8. I’m right with you on this Jonathan. After all none of us would leave the house wearing one sock!
    Congrats on the Ochs und Junior! Great choice.

  9. By the way, everybody wants to be famous or connected right now but I think the tide will change and in the near future we will all be finding ways to disconnect. I’m already working on it.

  10. Call me old fashioned but I will continue to enjoy wearing my mechanical watches. I have tried two generations of Apple Watch and keep coming to the same conclusion that I can either a) get what it provides elsewhere, as and when I need it or b) that it still requires me to be tethered to my phone, so negating its role somewhat.

      • Google (..er, ‘Alphabet’..) already has an implant in progress, having been provided with patient data by the Royal Free (Hospital), Moorfields, etcetera..

        • Smart falsies – they could clean themselves, never need fillings/crowns/etc etc.. On the negatives, yes monitoring our consumption of unhealthy stuff might be a bit worrying. But think of how much fun you could have as a rebel wearing them – “Yes Google, I am on sixth Jack Daniels – so what!”

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