Screw TVs — Why Isn't Apple Building A Smartwatch?

By Greg Kumparak , written on April 16, 2012

From The News Desk

3.2 million dollars. That's how much the iOS-friendly Pebble smartwatch has raised on Kickstarter in just six days. It's the fastest growing project in Kickstarter's history; by tonight, it'll almost certainly have raised more than any Kickstarter project before it.

Are you listening, Apple? There's gold in them thar hills.

Ever since the iPad became a reality and the entertainment value of arguing its existence was thereby destroyed, the rumor mill has found a new focus: the Apple TV (as in a full-blown television set, not the cute, little media box.) While pundits will gladly argue the merits of such a product until they're blue in the face, no one seems to be able to answer a fairly fundamental question: whether or not anyone would actually want an Apple-made TV set.

What the world absolutely does want, however, is an Apple smartwatch. The signs are everywhere.

Just look at the way the tech world leapt to turn the iPod Nano into a watch. Not even a good watch, mind you. Hell, I'd go as far to say the iPod Nano is actually a fairly terrible watch — but it was the closest anyone could get to strapping iOS on their wrist. We collectively threw millions of dollars at things like the TikTok and the Paradox and countless other iPod Nano watchbands, all for a lowly illusion of wrist-borne iOS.

And then up pops the Pebble. It's the first stylish, flexible, iOS-friendly attempt at a smartwatch. Unlike the iPod Nano, it doesn't even pretend to be running iOS — it just promises to play friendly with it.

The Pebble has its quirks, like that it can't display incoming SMS because of API restrictions in iOS. And yet, people — 23,000 so far — are racing to throw money at this thing. There's no huge marketing campaign at play here, no flashy commercials with catchy soundtracks. It's just a good idea, spreading like wildfire by word of mouth. Imagine how well something like this would do with Apple's resources behind it.

Imagine a smartwatch that could natively tie into iOS apps, a tiny AirPlay-powered display that uses your iOS device as its brain.

Imagine interacting with Siri without ever pulling your phone out of your pocket, without the need for a goofy Bluetooth headset.

Hell — just imagine how good a watchface-sized retina display would look.

Plus, it's perfectly fit for Apple's go-to play from the past decade or so: They find a nascent market that's just starting to prove itself (see: MP3 players, smartphones, or tablets) but that others have generally screwed up so far, and they swoop in with their own finely polished entries (see: iPod, iPhone, iPad) and change the game entirely.

I'm not generally one to come down from the mountain and pretend I'm in a place to advise one of the biggest companies in the world on what to do...but the writing is pretty clear here: If Apple isn't at least tinkering with this idea, they're nuts. The world wants it, the technology is there, and Apple is one of very, very few companies in a position to do it right.

Come on, Apple... It's Dick Tracy time.