Apple’s Watch – Offense or Defense?

Amazon is loaded with hundreds of inexpensive fitness trackers.

Apple’s watch is the future of the company.  The watch will shrink in size, radio quality will improve, capabilities will grow and eventually watch revenues will pass the iPhone.

No, no, no.

Apple’s watch is a defensive play. Look for fitness trackers on Amazon. There are a slew of well built Asian knock-offs following designs that have challenged FitBit, but bring 80% of the Apple Watch functionality for $30. Selling the Watch keeps the most loyal iOS users from defecting – this is a defensive play.

Zone to Win is the latest book from Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm.  Crossing the Chasm is a landmark in product development, laying out the Product Lifecycle Model and showing how different customer populations change the role of product development.  ZtW outlines how product development can work outside of a pure startup in the walls of an established business.  A simple 2 x 2 grid lays out the four zones and establishes how companies can prioritize, set boundaries, and use product development to win new markets while defending existing ones.

More established business strategy analysts view the Apple Watch as an offensive play – I disagree. Moore discusses in the book that very rarely do companies cannibalize their own best products.  Apple would love to watch the Watch win – but it is too big of a commitment to say goodbye to the iPhone.  As Apple missed the Alexa trend with Siri, and like Microsoft’s miss of the shift to mobile, Apple won’t win against a host of low cost watch competitors, all of whom don’t pay Android licensing fees and build devices that can pair with the iPhone at a fraction of the cost.

The iPhone is defense – so we would expect that it eventually loses to the low cost, disruptive competitors.

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