The Apple Watch was a long-anticipated piece of technology. Smartwatches, like tablets, have been sought after as the next big thing. Manufacturers and developers alike hope it will be the next revolution, providing improved connectivity and, more importantly, a brand new unsaturated market into which they (and their profits) might expand. However, things have been somewhat stymied for this product category. No one seems to be sure what the ultimate purpose of a smartwatch is. It's too small, too weak, and drains power too quickly to be an independent replacement for your smartphone. Anything it can do, your phone can do better and with much more screen real estate to play with.
Manufacturers played with the form factor for a period of time before Google made a concerted effort to support smartwatches with its Android Wear platform, but even that didn't quite take off. Many looked to Apple to revolutionize smartwatches and popularize yet another smart device. Their efforts, however, don't appear to be particularly compelling or even unique.
The Apple Watch requires an iOS device. It's not a standalone device. And its app support, though numerous, doesn't include big names like Facebook or Snapchat. The New York Times recently ran an article painting a somewhat bleak picture for the watch. The twenty most popular iPhone apps do not have an Apple Watch equivalent. Its small size and relatively small userbase (a mere three to five million based on analyst projections, nowhere near the market of iOS or Android in general) make it difficult to justify a release in several cases. Developers seem to be waiting with baited breath to see how the watch will do, and the watch needs developers to support it in order to draw attention. It's a vicious cycle that requires someone to make a leap of faith.
This Tuesday, Apple will report their third-quarter earnings. The company has been quiet on the subject of watch sales and will be rolling it into the category of "other" to prevent reporting on the platform specifically. This leads some speculation about the overall success of the device.
Apple is a name with a dedicated fanbase; consumers line up for days at a time in the hopes of being the first to own their latest iDevice. The name alone may very well carry the watch past the initial hump, creating a user base attractive enough for developers to start paying attention to the watch. The smartwatch form factor, though, is rather constraining. As much as major players like Apple, Google, and Samsung might want the market to explode, consumers may decide they're happy enough with their smartphones.