What it is: Apple’s latest Apple Watch offers an option for cellular connection, making it independent of an iPhone.
The progress of technology is easy to spot. When PCs first appeared, they were derided as “toys” that couldn’t compete against mainframe and minicomputers. Then PCs got more powerful while still being far cheaper than mainframes and minicomputers. Even when PCs weren’t as powerful as mainframes and minicomputers, their low cost made them far more appealing.
To use a mainframe or minicomputer, you had to use a dumb terminal, which looked like a PC but without any processing power of its own. PCs were often used as dumb terminals too, but gradually PCs weaned themselves away from dependent on mainframe and minicomputers to the point where they could be useful on their own.
When the iPhone first appeared, it wasn’t that useful. You couldn’t add apps so you had to just settle for what came with it. Most people connected their iPhone to a computer to backup data and synchronize information. That’s because most people still relied heavily on computers where the iPhone was just an accessory to the computer. Then the iPhone got more powerful to the point where many people rely more on their iPhone and do far less with a computer.
When the iPad first appeared, you couldn’t even turn it on without first connecting it to a computer. Gradually the iPad weaned itself off dependence from a computer to the point where an iPad can be essentially free of relying on any computer.
When the Apple Watch first appeared, it had to rely on an iPhone for Internet connectivity. Now with the latest Apple Watch offering optional cellular connectivity, the Apple Watch is gradually freeing itself from the iPhone. Pretty soon, like computers, smartphones, and tablets, the Apple Watch won’t need to rely on any other device and will become a separate entity all by itself. When that happens, the true potential of the Apple Watch will merge.
Remember, if it wasn’t for smartphones like the iPhone, a whole host of businesses like Uber and AirBnb could not exist. When the Apple Watch becomes an independent product, it will likely spawn new businesses as well in ways that are unforeseen, just like few people could predict the arrival of ride-sharing services like Uber when the iPhone first appeared.
The trend of any product is to get more powerful and become independent. That’s the future of the Apple Watch. Its cellular capabilities may be primitive for now, but watch each new generation make it more powerful each year. One day the Apple Watch will become commonplace and people will forget that they ever questioned the purpose for a wearable computer like the Apple Watch. Then something new will appear, like smart glasses, and people will start wondering about its purpose and need all over again.