When we wrote about the arrival of wearable technology this time last year, it was with some expectation that the market would move forward more quickly in the following twelve months. With mainstream manufacturers jumping into the product category at that time and the media seemingly obsessed with the phenomenon, it seemed likely that brands would
One year on very little has changed in the marketplace itself. Even so, there’s reason to believe that things will finally start to shift as 2015 arrives. That’s thanks to Apple’s arrival in the category with Apple Watch and its new Pay product, both of which provide a much more compelling reason to get involved with wearables.
The promise of wearables so so far proved elusive, even when Samsung set itself up as a first mover last fall. Galaxy Gear has failed to sell in the numbers the brand needed, while Google Glass has remained in its early testing stages, all the while taking fire from privacy advocates and anyone who sees one of Google’s “Explorers” out in the wild (the informal term for these folks is considerably less complimentary).
The Apple Watch hasn’t launched yet but its promise is much greater than the competition, especially given that Apple has seen others fail and understands the various pitfalls a little better as a result.
Apple has also seen why other mobile payments have limited appeal – few partners, low adoption of smartphone apps, or simply too little marketing – and won’t make the same mistakes with Apple Pay. That could be a prime catalyst for users (consumers love convenience!) who have yet to understand what wearable tech has to offer them. Throw in the fitness and communications functions, plus that unique brand appeal that Apple always brings to market, and the promise may finally start to outweigh the pitfalls of this slow-burning tech trend.
Privacy remains a concern, as does fashion, even for less conspicuous items like watches and bands, but Apple has a track record of overcoming both security and design concerns to make its products immediately desirable. In turn, that early adopter envy consistently turns into products and services that sell to a wider audience, which is where other brands have come unstuck.
Worries about data security may be fueled further, though, in the wake of the iCloud celebrity hacking scandal that recently erupted. Apple Pay certainly has some challenges ahead of it, but becoming a major player in the mobile payments space is a big carrot for Apple and the convenience of their products tends to trump competing concerns, especially in terms of mobile technology. Competition is already starting to bubble up, however, as some major chains look at starting their own payment systems and disabling Apple Pay.
Even against that backdrop of multiple challenges, he combination of Apple Watch with an iPhone and Apple Pay seems set to convince consumers that wallets and handbags can finally be left at home. And by overcoming that barrier, Apple probably knows that it will simultaneously demolish the final hurdle to bringing wearable technology to the mass market.