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Let’s get this disclaimer out of the way: at the time of this writing, there is no iWatch, no announcement of an iWatch, or even an acknowledgement from Apple that an iWatch was ever a gleam in its creative eye. Yet everybody and their dog knows it’s coming, most likely near the end of this year. If it doesn’t happen this year, the tech community is going to lose its collective mind. We know nothing about it, yet an entire market is holding its breath, waiting to be reinvented by this thing.
There are questions of timing (no pun intended). But make no mistake about it–the iWatch cometh, and it means business. The burning question is exactly what will it mean for business. Here are a couple of possibilities:
Conferences and events
To get a sense of what Apple could do for conferences and events, just take a good look at what Disney is doing with wristbands. With the disney MagicBand, one can open their hotel room door instead of funneling around with that card key that never works the first try. One can just walk into the park and enter the various attractions the same way and it also covers food and drinks as it is associated with a credit card.
There are further security measures built into the system. Purchases require a four-digit pin in conjunction with the wristband. To enter the park and attractions, one needs to authenticate with a fingerprint. Apple will be able to take this to the next level if they can build in TouchID: their fingerprint authentication system, into the device.
Disney is also using location tracking in interesting ways. One example is that a person wearing one of these bands might be at a key point on a ride where their picture is automatically taken, and sent directly to their Disney picture site. All of this is made possible because of the sensors embedded into the device. The iWatch will have more.
Conferences can dispense with electronic cards for attendees wearing an iWatch. The wearable, itself, becomes the ID. It also becomes the individualized schedule for attendees. It is the reminder of an upcoming lecture two doors down. Or it is how attendees will be notified of schedule conflicts and events that have to be rescheduled. Want to sell the attendees books and DVDs? Let the iWatch be the one-tap, fingerprint authenticating point-of-sale. The possibilities are endless.
To get more of a sense of what is possible with real-time technology, take a look at an example of iPad conference apps. These customizable conference applications are already cutting edge in simplicity and functionality and allow businesses to cash in on data-driven mobile apps.
Fewer lost or broken phones
One of the biggest reasons smartphones break is that they are dropped. Smartphones are frequently dropped because they are frequently held in the hand. Worse, to be held, they first have to be pulled out of pockets and purses. Many of the bad things that happen to mobile tech occur as a result of handling. This is why there is so much emphasis placed on drop tests. According to one report, Americans have spent almost $6B since 2007 repairing broken iPhones. That is just iPhones, and this was written two years ago. There is no indication that people who use a smartphone for business are any more careful than those who use one casually. The cost to business has to be tremendous when tablets and other smartphones are taken into account.
The iWatch, will, at the very least, reduce the need to take the iPhone out of the pocket, or the iPad out of the satchel. How many times a day do we pull out our phones just to see the time, or check caller ID, or look at and respond to a text message? All of these things are easily done with a smart watch. Presumably, the iWatch will be able to do even more.
The second most common cause of iPhone damage is water. It happens more often that anyone is willing to admit, but iPhones often end up swimming in toilets. Because they are laid on tables with a refreshing beverage nearby, they suffer baptism by pouring. When common functions are worn on the wrist, this type of damage should be minimized.
Finally, it will be harder for those company phones to be lost or stolen as there will be less need to take them out of the pocket and leave them on the restaurant table. If users are less inclined to take them out of pockets while out and about, there will be far less opportunity for them to be stolen.
Even though no one knows exactly what the iWatch will be, it is almost certain that it will be big for business.