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Wearing Thin

March 20th 2015

Look at the news around the Applewatch.  There’s been comment around the large price variation ($349 to $17,000), the fact that its oblong rather than round or that it’s accurate to within 50 milliseconds of UTC.

But the real questions are around what you’d use it for.  When the Mac and later iPad were launched, there were myriad uses where a smarter, easier to use format provided a real advantage.  The problem perhaps with smartwatches is they currently do very little more than act as remote controls for other devices - or monitor your pulse.  And the problem is that the Apple watch battery life is less than one day, which is a perennial Apple problem.  Even so, there’s no doubt that Apple fans will buy the devices in the millions – but then what?

Perhaps the answer lies in some of the other announcements.  A recent YouGov survey has revealed that wearable technology devices are on the crest of a wave, with 4.7million people in the UK using some sort of smartwatch, fitness band, activity tracker or monitor.  This figure is predicted to grow by 50% to 80% by the end of this year.

Part of this is the Internet of Things – each UK household is forecast to move from an average of 12 connected devices to over 40 in 2 years – and part is the increased focus on activity for health reasons.  Another part of this may also be fashion and this is where Google has yet to come up the learning curve – Google Glasses provided a rich range of new capabilities to the wearer but were just too geek centric to take off.

However, there are other announcements that may provide the real reason why smart wearables are here to stay.  We’ve already become uses to paying for things with simply the swipe of a contactless card and the rise of contactless (Near Field Communications) enabled devices is part of the fabric of the Internet of Things.  And how much easier it would be to pay by simply moving your wrist rather than having to pull out your wallet out and find a card.

And that brings us back to Apple.  Almost lost amongst the device launches and updates was the news that Applepay is starting to take off.  The company revealed that 2,500 banks are now signed on for Apple Pay and the mobile payment service is accepted at more than 700,000 locations across the country.  You can now even buy Coke from 40,000 vending machines using Applepay.

Perhaps not credit risk but credit wrist.

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