What it is: Apple’s latest version of the Apple Watch offers cellular phone connectivity, which means it no longer needs an iPhone.
New technology always replaces old technology, but there’s always a place for the older technology in a diminished role. PCs displaced mainframes and minicomputers punters, although mainframes still exist in the form of super computers. Movies have largely replaced stage plays but stage plays are still popular, just not the primary form of entertainment for most people. Search engines took over from the Yellow Pages although the Yellow Pages still exists. Even word processors haven’t eliminated typewriters because manual typewriters can still operate in places without electricity.
Although newer technology never completely eliminates older technology, all technology will eventually be replaced in the future. So the big question is what could replace the smartphone? The answer may be wearables like the Apple Watch.
The latest version of the Apple Watch offers cellular connectivity, which means you can make phone calls from an Apple Watch independent from an iPhone. Best of all, you can’t lose or misplace an Apple Watch as easily as an iPhone since the Apple Watch is strapped to your wrist.
Now the Apple Watch offers a smaller screen, but the iPhone screen is already a compromise. It can’t be too large or you can’t carry it easily. It can’t be too small or you can’t see it easily. Ideally, you want a large screen so that’s where an iPad can be more useful. Since an iPad is so large, you might not want to carry it around all the time, so leave it at home and use an Apple Watch instead.
The combination Apple Watch and iPad threatens the iPhone. The iPhone is a compromise between a tablet and a wearable. Watch people waiting in line and they’re usually staring at their smartphone because it’s convenient. However, if they want to do any work, an iPhone screen is too small so an iPad would be better. Of course, that means taking an iPad around all the time, which is far less convenient than carrying an iPhone.
For many people, the iPhone works just fine, but for a small minority that will continue to grow, an iPhone is more than what they need. An Apple Watch with cellular connectivity is far easier to carry around and if you need a screen, take an iPad with you. The combination of an iPad and an Apple Watch will work fine for many people while others will prefer the tradeoff of an iPhone instead.
Yet the Apple Watch points to the future. For sheer convenience, the Apple Watch beats the iPhone. For getting work done, the iPad is better than the iPhone. For a compromise between the two, an iPhone gives you a screen larger than the Apple Watch while being easier to carry than the iPad.
Keep your eyes on the Apple Watch. It’s going to grow faster than you think and pull iPad sales along with it. When the iPhone starts to stall in popularity, it will likely be because wearable computers like the Apple Watch and even Air Pods are far easier to carry and use. It will take time for people to adjust to making calls without a traditional phone, but it didn’t take much time at all for people to transition to touch screen interfaces from physical keyboards.
The iPhone made that transition fast and easy, and wearables like the Apple Watch will likely do that as well and threaten the iPhone in the future.