Now that I’ve had an Apple Watch for some time, I am beginning to garner some important personal perspectives on how I use it and the one app that is the most valuable to me. At the recent CES, wearables and smartwatches were still big news with Huawei introducing new models and Samsung raising the stakes on their watch line with a big push for Samsung Pay. There is no question there is still a lot of interest in this type of wearable.
In fact, we believe Apple will sell around 22 million Apple Watches in its first year on the market and believe Apple had a big holiday season of selling Apple Watches around the world.
That said, I realize there are a lot of people who will never buy an Apple Watch or any type of smartwatch for various reasons. And even some who have bought an Apple Watch have given up on them already. However, for those who have bought one and continue to use it, I keep hearing they really like it and, interestingly, what they consider to be their killer app varies greatly. For instance, my wife’s killer app is “Find My iPhone” since she is always misplacing it. She also loves using it to communicate with our granddaughter who is in Junior High and has an Apple Watch too. For others, it is the activity tracker and step counter. And, as more and more apps become available for the Apple Watch, a range of potential killer apps will emerge. I am sure it will give others even more apps that make the Watch indispensable for them.
But, for a specific group of users known as knowledge workers, the killer app seems to be notifications. I am one of those users. I admit I am a bit anal about the info and data I want and the fact I really like to notified with information or requests that are timely. I got hooked on notifications when I started using the original Samsung Gear watch and then the first gen Motorola watch. Both were connected to an Android smartphone I also carried with me and it gave me a taste of how valuable notifications are in this type of wearable.
So, when the Apple Watch came out, I already knew it would become important. However, since Apple launched other apps as well, I expected to find at least a few that would fit my needs. But during the time I have used the Apple Watch, notifications continue to be the #1 reason I would feel lost if I ever forgot to wear it. In my case, I have tailored the notifications for my particular needs. Besides notifications of calls and text messages, I get news alerts from CNN, AP and ESPN. I recently also added notifications from Twitter but they are tied to key people I follow and not every tweet that gets posted. There are now thousands of apps that add a notification connection but I find the one’s mentioned above to be the most important to me.
I knew notifications were important to me but during CES I talked to dozens of Apple Watch users and they told me the same thing. In fact, on a couple wearable panels, speakers mentioned this as well-notifications have become their most important app on their Apple Watch besides telling the time.
What I think appeals to them is based on two key things a smartwatch does for them. First, since it is connected to their iPhone, it sends them pertinent info or data on the wrist so they are not always taking the phone out of their pocket. It is much easier to glance at a call coming in and act on it once you know who is calling. I only take calls from family, friends and my staff. All others go to voice mail.
And for us knowledge workers who are infomaniacs, getting news blurbs or key info pushed to us saves us from checking our phone often to get that information. It could also save or make us money. I had a friend of mine tell me he tracks three of his key investments via the Apple Watch and was once notified of a major swing in one of his stocks he immediately acted on it and, by doing so quickly, made a major profit on this stock.
Although my comments are anecdotal, I recently saw a report on smartwatches that looked at the top apps people use and notifications are in the top 3 of most used on a smartphone. I suspect by the end of this year it will become clearer that notifications are a big part of why people buy an Apple Watch or similar smartwatch as it really has an impact on how they use their smartphones. It changes the convenience level of mobile technology when data is pushed to us in this manner and does not force us to take out our smartphones.
Of course, the big question is, would people spend $350 or more for an Apple Watch or smartwatch if notifications are the only important app they use?
As of now, the early adopters seem to be saying yes. But, since killer apps are very personal and subjective, Apple will need to work harder with their developers to create even more innovative apps that deliver a whole host of other options that make an Apple Watch indispensable to potential buyers. The good news is we are finally seeing more native Apple Watch apps come out and those should help get more people interested in the Apple Watch.
However, after talking to many Apple Watch users and, given my experience with the watch so far, I suspect even if they find some other apps that are important to them, notifications will be the one they find makes their Apple Watch indispensable.