Can Apple Make Watches Cool Again?

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In the movie The Internship, Billy and Nick (played by Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson) lose their jobs as wristwatch salesmen because the company they worked for folded. It seems that with all the modern gadgets at our disposal, nobody uses wristwatches anymore. The movie rings true in a lot of ways, as asking anyone these days what the time is, results in them checking everywhere except their wrist, but yet here we are with Apple announcing their foray in the world of “wearables.”


Gear for Geeks

Of course, there are situations where the traditional watch was still handy, especially amongst the sporty types who generally can’t reach into their pockets and whip out a smart phone, but these are probably not the people that Apple are targeting. Let’s face it, the folks who obsess over high quality, precision mechanical watches are probably not going to be swapping their Seiko Diver’s watch or Rolex Yacthmaster for an Apple watch.

So, while the big Swiss watchmakers are probably not quaking in their boots, Apple does have a very large army of loyal fans that will ensure that their product makes a splash. They have their work cut out for them as smart watches are not a new concept and despite being available for a while now the concept hasn’t really caught on. Apple does seem to have the magical touch when it comes to adding innovative features to existing products, so even people who may scoff at a traditional watch might be lured in by what is promised with this watch.


 Time For Something New

Aiming to be available in two sizes and featuring six interchangeable watch bands, the Apple Watch is obviously more than just a piece of equipment that tells the time, which apparently it does very, very accurately. Instead, Apple aims for the watch to be an indispensable accessory for your iPhone. The watch can do some stuff on its own, but to unlock its full potential it must be paired and connected to your phone.

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According to Apple, the watch will allow you to stay close to the people you care about through a friends list accessible with one touch. From there you can make calls, send messages or contact your friends in all the other ways offered by the watch. Apple also aims to personalize the experience, so instead of simply using audio cues to get your attention when you receive notifications, the watch will actually tap you, just like another person would! For added novelty, you can “tap” other people through their Apple Watches or even send them your heart rate to show them that you are thinking about them. The latter is probably best reserved for your partner, and not your boss though.

Fitness fanatics will appreciate the way that the watch can measure body movement through its accelerometer or track their heart rate with a custom sensor. It can even use the GPS and Wi-Fi of the iPhone to track how far you have moved while the Activity app will keep track of important data such as calories burned. Then there is the dedicated workout app included as standard to get you up, moving and motivated. Paired with your iPhone you will be able to keep track of all your progress and even share the info with others for bragging rights.

Perhaps the most interesting feature of the Apple Watch is how it aims to replace your wallet when it comes to making payments. Using the Apply Pay system you will be able to purchase everything from coffee to groceries simply by swiping your wrist at supporting stores. This is a very convenient feature, but only time will tell whether it will catch on.

Only Time Will Tell


As the Apple Watch is not available yet there are still some mysteries about it as well as important questions such as what the battery life will be like. The watch features enough goodies and gadgets to make it appealing to the tech minded people, but whether the general public will take to the idea is another matter.

The watch can certainly do a lot of things, but there are already devices dedicated to most of what it has to offer. Smartwatches have been very slow to catch on with the general public, but Apple has proven time and again that they have their finger on the pulse of what consumers want.

It will be interesting to see what the response from other smartwatch makers and indeed traditional watchmakers will be. One thing is for sure, if Apply fails to make a big impact with their smartwatch there isn’t much of a chance that their competition will either. Now all that is left is to wait for the release and to remember that it is called the Apple Watch and not the iWatch.

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Apple and EMC: What do You See in Common?

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Apple and EMC. Two phenomenal companies: one in consumer electronics and the other in storage systems. The ones to pop up first in people’s minds when their market sectors are mentioned. The ones that are enjoying double digit growths since years. Multi billion dollar US companies. Can count more? Yes, but this is not my point in this article.

Consider Apple and EMC before their presidents (just to note, I am not speaking about Tim Cook. For me, Apple’s president was, is and will be Steve Jobs.)

Let’s look at EMC. In late 2000s, we are talking about a company whose market capitalization hit $ 225 billion, competing with NetApp, IBM and HP. In 9 months, with the dotcom burst, the market cap fell more than 90%. In 2001, in one quarter the loss was $ 1 billion. Once the alluring king of storage, where was EMC?

Then a magician stepped in: revitalized the company, assigned customers to even the highest legal counsels, vice presidents, kept up the R&D budget no-matter-what resulting in a phenomenal success in the company’s history. The then-quietly dethroned king was holding his mighty sword once again and was raging in the battlefield. EMC was on the throne again. This time, only stronger.

Apple was struggling to keep its “existence”, in a sector where it was once leading. The uptake was simply not happening, the products were not creating the sales the company desperately needed: Centris and Quadra wasn’t doing as good as Macintosh, Newton was absorbing enormous resources, Apple II was too expensive to produce and Windows gaining traction. Power Mac and Next was hardly doing it. Plus, the company was suffering with crippling financial losses.

Somewhere another magician took the stage. He did only what he himself could do: Microsoft Office on Mac (1997), Apple Stores (2001), iTunes (2003), iPhone (2007) and iPad (2010). All phenomenal successes, making a US Company that had more reserves than the US Government.

Same mimics, but not enough.

Same mimics. But not from a visionary as it used to be.

Do you see the problem here?

Apple is Steve Jobs. It always was. Joe Sculley, Gil Amelio were and Tim Cook is irrelevant. He is the one that had the reality distortion field, the one that pushed the impossible and made it possible, the one that could see how the consumer electronics should be and the one who knew what the customer wanted even before the customer knew it. He made a perfect match of electronics with the interaction design (Donald Norman is an Apple fellow). He made the “geek stuff” usable by the average Joe/Jane with a dominant sense of elegance.

It is the same with Joe Tucci. You cannot say that before-Tucci EMC is the same as after-Tucci EMC.

EMC is simply dependent on one man as Apple. The “one man” that gives the company “the spirit.” Without “the spirit”, the company is not a phenomenon, but a commodity. Just as almost all cell phones look like iPhone, it is the iPhone that has a spirit (I’m a Samsung Galaxy S2 user) and it is Steve Jobs who blew the spirit. Just as Joe Tucci.

This is the problem.

There is clearly no successor to Joe Tucci; that’s why EMC board is not letting him go, despite he explicitly says he wants to spend time with his grandchildren. When I ask EMC employees what they think about life after Tucci, they mumble something like “Pat Gelsinger” (or better, the favorite son) but we know the truth: his position as the favorite son has considerably weakened. And I know that the EMC employees cannot say “Pat Gelsinger” bravely. They grin and mumble.

Isn’t it the same as Apple? Do you see Tim Cook as the successor of Steve Jobs? I don’t. Steve was checking every nut and bolt of the design because he had the perfectionist Zen mind. He dictated where the screws had to be placed. Apple products look perfect both outside and inside. And see Tim Cook’s accomplishment: the MacBook Pro 2013 line needs a proprietary screwdriver to be opened. Just as he did in Compaq. Screw the screwdriver: the spirit is no longer there.

We know that Steve did not want Tim to manage Apple in a what-would-Steve-do manner; in fact he asked just the opposite. But this does not change the reality: being a perfect C-something-O does not necessarily makes someone a visionary that changes the world. Somebody has to sell sugared water.

I do not see a bright future for Apple. Nor for EMC after Tucci. What they need to do is to find a way to survive in the post-visionary era. And this whole article is a detailed explanation of why I do not want to invest in EMC in the long run: not only in stocks but also in the datacenter.


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