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In Defense of the Apple iWatch

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Despite critics' frustration with the product and company, the iWatch isn't the worst thing Apple could be developing now.

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"For better or worse, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has painted itself into a corner."

It was nearly two years ago when I wrote those words in a piece for Minyanville called What Will Be Apple's Next Big Thing? In it, I described how the releases of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad -- as well as the MacBook line and, to a lesser extent, the Apple TV -- have limited Cupertino's avenues for innovation. Although a credit to the overwhelming versatility to Apple's line of products, it's difficult for the company to develop and release a brand new product with similar groundbreaking features and promise.

Unfortunately, we're starting to see the fruits of Apple's complacency since then.

As the company began to rest on the laurels of the admittedly leafy iPhone and iPad, other companies like Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) scrambled to out-innovate what was once the market leader in a bright, new future. Today, with a depleted stock and a mobile line that's looked stale for a while, Apple is no longer the go-to name for innovation. In the last two years, there have been a few updates and iterations of its existing products, but it really hasn't released anything earth-shattering.

Apple has left that to Google.

Between Google Now, Google Glass, rescuing iPhone users from Apple Maps, and countless whiz-bang features of the latest versions of Android, Google has critics and consumers looking six miles north of Cupertino for the next big thing.

But, ironically, it's the innovation that Google and Samsung have been championing that showcases the stuff Apple should and could be doing. After all, Apple is nothing if not open to "inspiration." And what Google Glass could mean for technology's future, the proposed Apple iWatch is a step in that direction.

The only thing is, for many, it's blatantly a baby step.

This week, Forbes contributor Haydn Shaughnessy lashed out at the Apple iWatch, dubbing it, "The Distraction That Will Drive Apple's Stock Down." Shaughnessy called it a "low-value, insignificant project" that a "start-up (like Pebble) could have thrown up onto a crowdfunding site."

He may be right about that, but Apple desperately needs to be innovating and an iWatch isn't the worst place to start.

Take a look at Google Glass, and given the mouth-watering promise the product has, you probably have. Already, it's the star of SXSW, the subject of many a glowing review, and the quintessential example of how wearable technology can change the game -- all months before it's in the hands of the public. Granted, we may be on the precipice of a Segway-level flop, but the world already had small, personal transports. We really don't have heads-up displays connected to the complete history of human knowledge. And honestly, folks are much more willing to look like Geordi La Forge than a dork on a giant scooter.

Even if neither of Google's add-ons for the head or feet (the company just announced a smart sneaker project) is a runaway success, that will certainly not impede the future of wearable technology. And who might be able to step up in that arena if Google is unable to lead? Perhaps one with a small project which tested the waters and paved the way for something much, much greater?

I'll give you a hint: It's only been two years since it was considered such a leader.

No, the Apple iWatch hasn't blown people away like Google Glass. Yes, Apple needs to debut something bigger for it to recapture its status as a leader in innovation. But it's something new. It's something different. And it's a product within a technology rife with promise and feature-rich development.

The Apple iWatch shouldn't be a discouragement for the company to branch out from middling updates to the iPhone, especially into a field where many, many others will enter soon. I just hope that it's not the only field Apple has in its immediate radar.

May I suggest home automation?


Also see:

BlackBerry in Africa, Amazon in Turkey: The Real Tech Action Is in Emerging Nations

Apple Gets Twitter-Bombed -- Again

Apple to Google: The Other Great Rotation



No positions in stocks mentioned.
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