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商业 - 科技

苹果不搞智能手表就对了!

Cyrus Sanati 2013年09月13日

传得沸沸扬扬的苹果智能手表iWatch并没有出现在苹果的新品发布会上,大大出乎外界的意料,更别说三星了。不过,这对苹果是个大好的消息。智能手表市场进入门槛低,利润低,而且已经拥挤不堪,甚至就连日产汽车都推出了智能手表!苹果不凑这个热闹就对了!

    苹果(Apple)最新产品发布会令人失望,但如果苹果同时发布一款所谓“智能手表”产品,那恐怕就不只是失望那么简单了。面对三星(Samsung)和日产汽车(Nissan)最近推出的智能手表,果粉们一直期待苹果公司能在上周二的“特殊活动”上推出苹果自己的电子腕表。但这款被科技媒体命名为iWatch的神秘设备并没有出现在发布会上。

    投资者和苹果公司的消费者应该把iWatch的缺席看作一件好事。苹果根本没有必要涉足竞争激烈、回报率低的手机配件行业,尤其是智能手表这种荒谬的设备。它应该把时间和资金用于为现有的产品开发新市场,致力于下一件“大”事,来真正提高公司的收益和回报,这才是对公司和股东都有利的做法。

    苹果最新产品发布会令人深感遗憾。以前的发布会,苹果公司精心挑选的书呆子和果粉们总是会不时发出赞美或惊叹的声音,如今这样的日子已经一去不复返。最新发布的iPhone 5C用塑料制成,而不是金属,而且还提供了各种艳俗的颜色——毫无新意。iPhone 5C也没有让分析师感到兴奋。分析师们一直期待苹果推出“廉价版”iPhone,来吸引新兴市场更多的消费者加入苹果的生态系统。可结果呢,看看无补贴无合约款iPhone 5C在美国的价格,32G(这是如今活跃用户的最低要求)的售价竟然高达649美元。这样的价格就算对于美国消费者来说也太过昂贵,所以,就别指望这款手机能吸引新兴市场和国际市场的消费者了。因为,除了无补贴价格之外,其他地区的消费者还要支付溢价。

    除了iPhone 5C,这次发布会上没什么新鲜的。所以,可以肯定的说,苹果创新已死,或者至少已经滑入低谷。这一点非常可惜,但苹果并没有失去一切。苹果依然有深受欢迎的产品,依旧是一部赚钱机器。它有资本放松那么一阵儿,重新部署,然后它会重整旗鼓,用另外一款改变游戏规则的产品来冲击市场。

    现在苹果最不应该做的就是推出一大堆玷污公司形象的糟糕产品,既浪费了现金,又稀释了公司品牌。“iWatch”就是这样一款产品——根据科技媒体的“传言”,苹果对这款智能手表的研究已经有一年有余。苹果从没说过要发布这样一款设备,也没有公开传达任何与此有关的信息。

    那么,到底什么是智能手表?说法有很多,但一般而言,智能手表就是一款戴在手腕上的电子设备,可以通过蓝牙与智能手机连接,不需要看手机就能查看通知等。如果有来电呼入,手表会提醒用户,手表还可以显示短信,甚至可以控制某些应用和电话上的音乐播放器。当然,它还有一个功能,就是告诉你时间。

    实际上,智能手表的概念并不新鲜,它在体育市场只取得了有限的成功,一直未能作为一款可行的产品进入大众市场。为什么?很简单——它太荒谬了。一只手表的屏幕只有一至二平方英寸,能显示的信息非常有限。像“至尊神探”那样对着手表说话,只能用怪异来形容。而在手表上打字更是不太可能。此外,目前的语音文本转换软件并不成熟,所以,想用手表来发短信只会让人失望。

    然而一年多来,一直有传言称苹果正在研发一款智能手表,搭配下一代的iPhone手机。据传,苹果公司有100多名工程师从事这款设备的研发,而且公司还挖来了研究过其他智能手表的开发人员,比如耐克公司(Nike)的开发人员。

    Apple's latest product launch party was a real dud, but it could have been a lot worse if it had launched a line of so-called smartwatches. Apple enthusiasts had expected the company to counter recent smartwatch offerings from the likes of Samsung and Nissan by unveiling its own electronic wrist device at Apple's "Special Event" in Silicon Valley Tuesday, but the so-called iWatch, as the tech media has named the mythical device, was a no-show.

    Investors and Apple consumers should see this as a good thing. Apple has no business delving into the crowded and low-margin cellular accessories business, especially for a device as ridiculous as a smartwatch. The company and its shareholders would be better served if it spent its time and money developing new markets for its current products and working on the next "big" thing that will actually move the needle for the company in terms of revenue and profit.

    Apple's latest product launch party was pretty sad. Gone were the days when Apple was able to extract legitimate "oohs and aahs" from its hand-picked audience of nerds and Apple fanboys. The newly unveiled iPhone 5C is made from plastic instead of metal and is available in a bunch of loud colors -- snore. Analysts aren't excited with the 5C, either. It was hoped this "cheaper" iPhone would help bring in new customers into its ecosystem from the emerging markets, but it is hard to see how that can happen given that the 5C's unsubsidized contract-free price in the U.S. with 32G of onboard storage (a minimum for today's active user) will cost a shocking $649. That's expensive for the U.S. market, so you can forget about this phone appealing to those in the emerging and international markets where consumers pay a premium on top of the unsubsidized price.

    Beyond the iPhone 5C there wasn't much else announced that we didn't already know. So it is pretty safe to say that innovation at Apple is dead, or, at the very least, hibernating. That's sad, but all is not lost. Apple is still a cash-generating machine with a beloved product line. The company has the luxury to coast a bit and regroup before it comes back around and hits the market with another game-changing product.

    The absolute worst thing Apple could do now would be to set off on a path of cash destruction and brand dilution by launching a bunch of terrible products that would tarnish its image. Enter the "iWatch"-- the Apple smartwatch that the company has supposedly been working on for over a year or so, that is, of course, if you believe the tech press. Apple (AAPL) has never said anything about launching such a device nor has it leaked any information out to the public.

    So what exactly is a smartwatch? Well, there are many interpretations, but generally it can be defined as an electronic device you wear on your wrist that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth to deliver notifications and such without having to look at your phone. The watch can alert you if you have an incoming call, display text messages, and could possibly control some apps and the phone's music player, as well. It can probably tell you the time, too.

    To be sure, the smartwatch concept is not new and while it has had limited success in the athletic market, it has failed consistently to emerge as a viable product offering for the mass market. Why? That's easy -- it's absurd. The amount of information that one can get from a watch screen that is one to two square inches is pretty limited. Talking into a watch, a la Dick Tracy, is just weird, and typing into one is a near impossibility. Meanwhile, speech-to-text software is still rough, so having the watch deliver a text message can be super-frustrating.

    Nonetheless, rumors have floated around for over a year that Apple was developing a smartwatch to pair with its next generation iPhone. There was talk that the company had over 100 engineers working on such a device and that it had hired away developers who have worked on other smartwatches, such as those for Nike (NKE).

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