Gadgets

Apple iWatch is actually a home automation play, not a smartphone companion (analyst)

An iWatch prototype

Above: An iWatch prototype

Image Credit: VeneStudio

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch launched a couple of weeks ago as a fat, ugly, and expensive smartphone accessory that our own Devindra Hardawar called “relentlessly inessential.”

That’s not where Apple is going with iWatch.

Rather, Apple is looking to create a device that will allow you to control your music, your temperature, your security, your lighting, your energy use, your entertainment, and potentially much more, says Cantor Fitzgerald’s Brian White, who talked to Taiwanese and mainland China suppliers.

iwatch“As an Apple supplier, our contact offered insight into the “iWatch” and described this potential new device as much more than an extension of your iPhone but as a multi-purpose gateway in allowing consumers to control their home (i.e., heating/cooling, lights, audio, video, etc.),” White said today in a research note.

Now that is interesting.

The raison d’etre behind smartwatches has been a little suspect; they’ve mostly looked like little more than an adjunct to your smartphone. Which begs the question: Why do you need one? And the real-life use of smartwatches as sort of a wrist-based Google Glass, with constant social updates streaming in, can be problematic. One startup founder I talked to said when he checked updates on his Pebble, people thought he was being rude because he was “always checking his watch” and clearly was bored with them.

Building a watch-like device that is truly smart and useful for something other than seeing a constant stream of tweets would be a very Apple-like way to go. Personal fitness tracking and monitoring is a no-brainer, and adding home automation control makes it even more interesting.

Clearly, Apple TV could be part of the mix, as well as support for a number of the home automation standards.

As interesting as this could be, however, it’s unclear how big of a market Apple would be attacking here. Because the home automation market, while growing fast and offering tremendous opportunities, is still relatively nascent.


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