Apple is expected to announce the latest version of the Apple Watch on Tuesday, presumably called the Apple Watch Series 5, if the naming conventions continue. But where does Apple take the Watch? What improvements can make it possible to make it the kind of product that owners of Series 4 (or even Series 3 or Series 2) will run to and upgrade to?
Part of the problem is the lack of competition from the current Watch. Apple dominates the smartwatch industry to an almost absurd level: last year it accounted for more than half of the total sales of all smartwatches, with more than twice as much as Samsung and Fitbit – the number two and three places on the leaderboard – combined, according to Strategy Analytics.
Apple also released a major redesign for the Apple Watch last year, the first ever to do it since the product was introduced in 2015, meaning that the Series 5 models will almost certainly continue to use the Series 4 design instead of something new. It is especially telling that the biggest updates this year for the Apple Watch are rumors that are cosmetic – such as the leaked titanium and ceramic cases – or software-based, such as the stand-alone App Store and rumors about sleep.
Earlier Watch updates didn't have the same problem, thanks to the laundry list with features that were missing, such as good waterproofing, functional microphones and speakers, and an independent LTE connection that would disconnect it from an iPhone. But now the Watch has all those things, and the list of missing features that Apple could add this year is starting to get slimmer and slimmer.
That of course does not mean that the watch is perfect. The battery life is still short compared to the figures of a week achieved by Fitbit & # 39; s Versa line. Siri is still frustratingly inconsistent, which is a problem when it is also the only real text input tool because of the small screen size. And of course, the holy grail of every smartwatch – an always visible display that does not require sweeping hand distortions to show the time – is still far beyond Apple's reach.
But the features that are claimed to be coming to the Apple Watch this year can also point the way forward. As Apple made famous when it first launched the Watch, the fact that it's constantly on your wrist makes it the "most personal device ever" of the company. New styles and materials with which you can link a new Watch to your aesthetic is a way that Apple can help you achieve that goal. New health functions such as sleep and menstruation are another.
Apple is so far ahead that the only real competitor for a new Apple Watch is an old one, especially if you take into account the software lock-in – Apple lets its (naturally) own Watches integrate much deeper with iPhones than all competitors, making it is the de facto option for hundreds of millions of iPhone customers out there. Plus Apple's industry-leading support for older hardware, with the upcoming watchOS 6 that will be available on everything but the very first generation of the Apple Watch, means that Apple must have compelling reasons to convince current customers to buy a new one.
But without more meaningful competition, it is possible that Apple can continue to grow with its huge lead on the market and iterative upgrades. As the saying goes: if it is not broken, do not repair it.