Here it is – the Apple Watch. Sleek, stylish, and fashionable. It has an aluminum bezel that is attractive and, while techno-sheik, is not overly clunky. The watch has over 30 customizable faces ranging from classic early LED style, to refined analogue. The music player can hold 4,000 songs and integrates seamlessly with iTunes and the Apple music ecosystem. It’s health-related features include a pedometer with a daily step goal, voice prompts, and integration to Nike Plus. The band is infinitely adjustable and suitable for both men and women.
However, it’s from 2011. I had lunch with a friend of mine whose husband had recently become a software engineer at Kickstarter. I leaned that one of their first early successes had been a band designed to convert an Apple Nano into an attractive watch – the LunaTik Kickstarter sought $15K and almost broke $1MM. The 2010 Nano was a natural target to be hacked into a watch. It was just the right size and shape. It was designed to clip on to clothing and to be a wearable. Unlike it’s predecessor, which was all controls and no screen at all, it was all touchscreen.
I easily found the band online and picked up a silver Nano at an Apple store. It took less than 5 minutes to assemble the housing and setup the watch. The whole thing cost about $250. The watch immediately drew curiosity, comments, and praise. I used the watch with a pair of stereo Bluetooth headphones during my hour long train commute and it was very handy to have the music controls on my wrist instead of in my pocket.
Apple seemed to recognize the potential of the Nano as a watch. Apple stores stocked a couple of watch bands converters for a while, including my Kickstarter band. Though Apple originally only included a handful of watch faces in the Nano OS, a software upgrade in late 2011 included almost 30 digital clock faces. Then…silence.
In the meantime, the entire fitness tracker market emerged with Fitbit, Jawbone, and Nike coming out with models and getting wide retail distribution. Some interesting tech watches emerged, notably Samsung’s. The fitness bands and diet apps like MyFitnessPal started exchanging data, and platforms such as Tictrac emerged which could pull it all together and give you worthwhile guidance.
Over three years later, I’m still getting compliments on my watch. I’ve loved this (no so) little watch and I’ve never had a problem. But I’ve been developing watch envy. The Samsung Gear Fit nearly won me over. But, I’ve held off as rumors and conjecture of what the iWatch could bring to market emerged over the last six months. The money’s burning a hole in my pocket, ready to be spent on what Is supposed to be announced next month. Will I buy an Apple product, or will someone else build that perfect blend of style and functionality? Will it make me put my Jawbone Up in the drawer forever? Will it have been worth the wait? The overwhelming success of the LunaTik Kickstarter 3 years ago was just a hint at the demand potential for a well-designed smartwatch. Let’s hope Apple has been using its time well to make a watch as transformative as the iPhone was.by