The Apple Watch is possibly the most eagerly awaited consumer electronics device in 2015. There is an expectation that, just as the iPhone jumpstarted the market for smartphones, the Apple Watch will do the same for smart watches and wearables in general. While we can admire the way Jony Ive talks about the technology, precision, design, personalization, durability and other features that really make the watch desirable – the success of Apple Watch depends on something else altogether.
In my opinion, Apple Pay is the killer app that will make Apple Watch an indispensable wearable device. The wristwatch became the ultimate wearable when it took on the functionality of the clock tower. Of late, due to the ubiquity of the smartphone, the watch has become unnecessary for many, especially for younger adults, some of whom have never owned a watch. Similarly, the wallet has been around for hundreds of years, first carrying cash and then cards. With the wallet digitally integrated into a smart watch, we are likely to witness the next technology shift for the wristwatch. The Apple Watch will become the ‘turn back device’, something you would turn back for and are not likely to leave behind when you leave the house, just like your keys and smartphone.
Contactless payments have already become popular with many of us using our contactless credit and debit cards to make quick payments at shops, cafes, and grocery stores. Recently I heard someone say that they no longer remember their ‘Chip and Pin’ number used to authenticate a card transaction. If the ease of contactless is so popular, imagine the popularity of a watch that doesn’t even require you to remove your wallet. In addition, unlike the wallet, it is securely strapped onto your wrist, and can notify you about phone calls and texts, and much more.
Yes, glanceable notifications are cool, also voicing out your text messages might become cool at some point, as shown in the Android Wear commercials. Even sending a personalized heartbeat on your Apple Watch to your loved one might replace texting. But nothing can truly outshine the everyday functionality of making physical payments with your wrist watch.
As with any new technology, there are likely to be teething issues with Apple Pay, notwithstanding other competing technologies that emerge like the recent news about MCX. However, in the longer term, Apple has the upper hand, with built-in seamless integration with its devices and apps, and the biggest and most successful developer ecosystem, which go beyond the Apple Watch.
It’s no coincidence that Apple launched its smart watch and payment solution in tandem with each other. Timing is everything here and Apple seems to have gotten it right, yet again!