Will Apple challenge the watch tradition?

The old watchmakers express themselves with power and confidence at BaselWorld in Switzerland; ”the Apple Watch is not a threat” and then they come up with arguments that obviously make sense to them, but are totally irrelevant to me.

”Can it be repaired in 1,000 years or can it be repaired in 80 years?” Biver asked. ”Can your children wear the watch? No – because it won’t work anymore! The technology will be gone.” Jean-Claude Biver, Tag Heuer

If I want a little piece of expensive watch technology, the mechanical kind, which has its beauty in the way the tiny cog wheels smoothly work together and the worth comes from tradition and history, then I would of course never consider to buy an Apple Watch to fulfill that need.

The problem is, I’m not interested in that kind of watch. I have never been. To me a watch is something that was a tool for telling me the time. Since about 15 years I don’t wear a watch, today I just use my iPhone, iPad or iMac to see what time it is.

Therefore it’s completely irrelevant for me if there are skilled craftsmen that put together those tiny cog wheels so that everything works like a, eh, clockwork, or if I get my time from somewhere else. I just want to know the time and I frankly don’t bother at all about how that little piece of information is delivered. I couldn’t care less.

Also, I don’t think of a watch like an item that will stay in the family for generations. Hey, the watch will be mine and I’m cool with that. The only ones that are interested in repairing 1000 years old watches are archeologists! I’m not buying an Apple Watch for the future, I buy it because it’s the coolest watch I can get right now! (Well, soon…)

”A watch is not only giving time, it’s a status symbol and I don’t think you’ll get a status symbol in an Apple Watch with two billion functions that no one understands.” Walter von Kanel, Longines

Oh, oh, oh, BIG mistake! ”Two billion functions that no one understands” I think that the watchmaker von Kanel might be looking at this from his own, narrow perspective, because if there is something I have had severe difficulties to understand, it is digital watches… It doesn’t matter how many smart functions they have if you just want the watch to give you the time, and you don’t understand how to use the rest of it. The thing with Apple is the user experience and how they started out with making computers that were easy to use. Then they have continued to make devices that are easy to use: iPod, iPhone and iPad. We already know that the Apple Watch will be easy to use AND that we will recognize most of it features from what we have learned from using our other Apple devices.

For anyone that is used to Apple devices, it will become easy to understand how to use the Apple Watch.

I think that the Apple Watch will become a status symbol, but to show status is not only about showing how much money you have. Status is also about your intellectual capital, how modern you are and to wear an Apple Watch will send out signals that you are a smart, modern person, possibly with a little twist of ”that wants to take care of her/his body”. Smart, modern and healthy – many people want to be seen as that.

Those ”two billion functions” is what it’s all about. Apple, together with app developers, will deliver so many smart features that you can use with the watch and all together this little jewel will become one of your most important helper in your daily life. On top of that, it will also be part of the Apple Ecosystem and Apple Pay will make it ridiculously easy to pay with just touching your Apple Watch. That’s a true coolness factor, but it will also make us wonder how we ever could cope with pulling up our payment cards from our wallets…

This is what the Swiss watchmakers have to compete with. There will still be a market for their traditional watches, but so many more will want to have an Apple Watch. Many of those have never had a watch. They are not getting the concept of a traditional watch. They want a piece of the future.

The Big Apple Kingdom

Apple is an incredible successful company. It’s position as the number one trendsetter in the world of computers, smartphones, tablets and soon wearables is undeniable. Others may try, but it is what Apple do that sets the standard.

One of the new really hot things they have come up with is Apple Pay. Yesterday I got the news that  CVS Health Corp. (CVS) and Rite Aid Corp. (RAD) disabled the technology in their drugstores. Really? They want to launch their own system called CurrentC, which seems to be a clumsy attempt to create a system for digital payment. When Apple offers Apple Pay with both security, privacy and simple to use, CurrentC uses QR codes – which are a laugh even outside this payment system, and then they want to spy on the customers buying habits.

The right way to compete with Apple is to compete with quality and user satisfaction. Not to shut out a good payment solution and make the customers angry. When you think about it like this, it seems to be a, let us be kind, not so smart way to handle the situation.

However, we are living in a world that is rapidly changing. Two years ago I wrote the blogpost ”What is a country now when we have internet?” I was pointing at the fact that borders between countries become more irrelevant when we spend so much time in the digital world. One of the things that define a country is it’s currency. Digital currency is one of the options for the new digital world and Bitcoin is the first example of that, but so far it’s not trustworthy. Another way might be what Apple is about to do with Apple Pay and when I think about it like that, someone is bound to react and try to defend themselves from Apple’s growing, powerful kingdom.

What is a country in these days and where will our future wars be fought? I love Apple but I realize that when one company become as big and powerful as Apple, problems will follow and it’s extremely important that Apple works with good ethics. When you are big, you have to be kind.

Maybe opposition against Apple Pay could be considered as a guerrilla group’s attempt to defend themselves from becoming part of Apple’s kingdom?