Monday, 13 April 2015

Apple’s great leap in to wearable technology

The much-anticipated Apple watch has almost arrived with pre-orders being accepted online this week. Smart watches are no longer a new phenomenon, with rivals such as the Samsung Gear and the Pebble already hitting the shelves over a year ago.

However, this week marks a significant milestone for Apple in to the world of wearable technology. Following the success of both the iPhone and iPad is no small challenge for a company who has a history of innovating and changing the way customers interact with their products.

With more power on your wrist than the NASA computers that propelled man to the moon, wearable tech could be a game changer for marketers to promote their products and services. Some of these changes can already be seen in the tactics used by companies through relatively new platforms such as smartphones and tablets.


Wearing a device on your wrist is an even more intimate experience for the user, as it quite literally connects them physically to their technology. This brings a whole host of potential opportunities and possible pitfalls for companies looking to reach out to customers. The challenge for aspiring marketers is to take advantage of this new platform by creating new ways to connect using the small but ever present screen. The most effective communications will be short, concise and easy to consume while on the go. Marketing communications that fail to adhere to this criteria could be seen as intrusive and a disruption to the user.

The new Apple watch is able to collect a whole host of data on everything from the user's heart rate to even how many steps they have taken in a day. The wealth of data available to marketers offers a fantastic insight in to consumer habits.  This new platform could give rise to a whole new ecosystem of apps for monitoring health and fitness.

The limitations of such a small screen with no keyboard poses problems of how to best utilise smart watches for marketing purposes. Companies who simply try to port their existing apps to such a small device will likely be unsuccessful. It might be better to think of wearable tech as an extension or companion of existing smartphones and tablets rather than a stand-alone device.

While companies like Apple may find it more difficult to convince us we need a smart watch on our wrist than a computer in our pocket, I am in no doubt that wearable tech is here to stay. Apple has a fantastic track record of success and this launch could be the rocket fuel needed to launch wearable devices to the mainstream. The question is, are we ready for the vast amounts of data that users are willing to share with us?

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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