Apple Watch is going to hurt Twitter the most. Law of unintended consequences

I have been reading the multiple blog posts on the Monday “Spring event” for the Apple watch.

Having worn the Microsoft band for a few months now, I think I now know what I need from a wearable. Note I did not say “watch”. I gave up wearing watches many years ago and switched to a phone for time. I really don’t have a need for a watch and so don’t many others, but they will still buy the Apple “watch”.

I used the fitbit for activity tracking, so I was not actively looking for a fitness tracker before I got the Microsoft band. Being an active user, I think that I want most is “Smart Notifications” from a wearable. That it will track some fitness is an added bonus.

With the very small form factor, it is absolutely important that the right amount of “relevant information” comes to the wearable.

If you just take an email and strip out a few things and send it to the wearable, that wont help.

What you really need is a summary of the relevant portion of the email and the ability to dismiss, delete or provide contextual reply – the relevant actions may differ on the notification itself, but the action should result in not having to pick up the phone for quick responses, which your watch can handle.

Lets look at email notifications first and email call to actions.

I am really surprised the the Microsoft band has no delete or archive actions on the emails received. Which is pretty awful actually. I am pretty sure 60% of all emails that I receive are to be deleted after reading immediately or archived. Of the remainder, I could guess that 50% of them would be able to get a simple answer – Thanks, OK, Sounds good, Approved, etc. I am surprised that does not exist on the Microsoft Band.

The notifications on the Band are not “smart”, which I suspect Apple will get right, because of 3rd party developers.

If you get a bunch of smart app developers to focus on the 8 things most folks do every day, on the phone – check news, weather, sports, finance, email, social networks,  text messages or understand who is calling, then you can pretty much drop the need to pick up your phone by 50 – 60% of the time.

So here are the 3 unintended consequences of a successful Apple Watch launch according to me.

1. The battery life on your iPhone will “increase” since you wont “pick it up and use it as often”. Since 30% (at the low-end) and 60% (at the high end) of the stuff you use the phone for now, you can get on the watch. The battery life wont increase really, but you will charge the iPhone a lot less than every day or twice a day for heavy users.

2. Breaking news alerts, weather, sports news alerts will be more contextual and smart. So you know “just in time” instead of having to scan all of Twitter or social networks to find out what’s hot.

3. Over the longer term (5-7 years) obesity will drop among the “rich who can afford Apple watches” even further. Having a fitness tracker on your wrist that also does other things motivates you to take action.

Which brings me to Twitter.

I think of Twitter a global platform for “what’s happening as it happens” even before the media organizations get to know about it. Twitter knows first. And Twitter’s job is then to let everyone else know.

Well if you can summarize what’s happening and send it via a notification in a smart way, to all those who have the watch, then you dont have as many people posting on Twitter, or retweeting, instead you will increase the # of “consumers of the Twitter feed” even more, reducing the “producers”.

The folks that are “marginal users” of Twitter will use it even less. Why? Largely because they are in it to get information, not share as much. As much as 80% of Twitter’s users consume it but post < 10 times a month.

So, I think Twitter will become less and less relevant to them and more a “protocol” which can easily replaced by other systems.

Another loser from the Apple watch will be those that depend on Advertising on the mobile (Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc).

When you have a watch and use your mobile phone a lot less, the need to view ads on your watch do not exist.

I would short Twitter big time (I should put my money where my mouth is) because I think the Apple watch will drive its value down. I might add that Twitter may go down on its own because of other issues, but the Watch adoption will drive its irrelevance even faster.

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5 thoughts on “Apple Watch is going to hurt Twitter the most. Law of unintended consequences”

  1. The theoretical perspective is fine. Ultimately depends on traction of the watch. The use cases you mention is probably 0.05% of the population.

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