Seven years ago Clayton “Innovators Dilemma” Christensen wrote ..
… the prediction of the theory would be that Apple won’t succeed with the iPhone. They've launched an innovation that the existing players in the industry are heavily motivated to beat: It's not [truly] disruptive. History speaks pretty loudly on that, that the probability of success is going to be limited…
By “existing players” he meant Nokia (now a forgotten part of Microsoft). That’s the problem with making testable predictions — they break theories.
Which brings me to the aWatch, of which I am not a fan …
… I don’t think the 1st generation Apple Watch will be nearly as successful in the US market, though it may have some success in its true target market of China. Unlike the much loved Nano-clip it doesn't solve anyone's problems well. An water-susceptible exercise device tied to an iPhone is far less useful than an inexpensive FitBit. An authentication device tied to an iPhone is redundant in today's world. The iWatch Apple Watch is a very limited music and video platform. It’s too big, it’s too expensive, it's too fragile (water), the battery is too small and the initial demo highlighted bumping hearts...
… A waterproof $150 iOS 8 Nano-clip replacement in Sept 2015 will be interesting. Splitting the cellular phone into multiple components, for which iPad and Apple Watch are interaction elements will be interesting. Standalone Apple Watch 4 running on next-generation LTE will be interesting.
Apple Watch 1 is a mistake.
The aWatch will launch in the US and Chinese markets in a few months. It will fail early in the US market. There will be initial success in China, then it will fall to China’s chaotic nationalism and less expensive and more useful Chinese clone-variants. It may have some persistent sales in Japan.
So what happens after that?
Jonathon Ive either leaves Apple or tolerates a diminished role. He’s very wealthy and has accomplished much, so we shouldn’t feel too sad for him. Tim Cook moves his executive team around and puts his rhinoceros skin to good use. The share price dips and returns to trend line.
I think that will all be good.
The interesting bit is what happens to the aWatch tech and how soon will we see it in another form?
The timing depends on what Apple really thinks is going to happen to the aWatch. I assume that some execs expect it to fail and that there’s a plan B, and maybe a Plan C, in the works. So what should we expect in the fall of 2015?
Physically the Plan B device looks a lot like the much beloved 6th Generation Nano Clip. It will be designed to work with a wrist band or a clothing clip. It will be an excellent 32GB store music device but will also act as a detached extension companion to an iPhone. It will be good at caching data and then posting it back when in phone range. It will have some GPS functionality (limited) and some exercise tracking ability when attached to the wrist.
Plan B will be modestly successful worldwide.
Then there’s Plan C. I owe Plan C to @duerig, who carries an ultra-slim flip phone and an iPad. I’m convinced he’s got things right — that the world is going to go towards people who carry just a phablet and people who carry a phablet and a mini-phone. Apple’s got the phablet market covered with the 6+. Plan C is a slightly larger and heavier version of the 7th generation nano paired with an iPad Mini 4 . This iPhoneMini is a device Apple considered launching in 2011 and the iPad Mini 4 replaces the already forgotten iPad Mini 3 (Apple’s feeblest product hop ever).
I might buy Plan B (iOS nanoClip), I would definitely buy Plan C (iPhoneMini + iPad mini 4).
Both of these are good futures that will leverage aWatch investments. Look for Cook to announce them when Apple buries the 1st generation aWatch. Which means that stock dip will be short-lived.