Thursday, April 9, 2015

Apple Watch

~1.5782 Troy Ounces of Gold for …$15,000? Nice 800% Mark-up!

Apple might even have Rolex beat with their mark-up of gold; the 42 mm yellow gold case (18K) contains approximately 1.5782 Troy Ounces of gold (worth $1885 at today's spot price.)

Rough numbers, that is an 800% mark-up. Wow.

Monday, April 6, 2015

From the Archives…December 2012

Well loyal readers, this is what was proposed several years ago. A modular smart watch integrated into a robust ecosystem. Much of the above has now reached fruition with the Apple Watch launch scheduled for 4/24/15. Mobile Pay? Check. Games? Check. GPS? Check. VoiceBurst? Not yet. Modularity? Not yet. Circular Touchscreen? Not yet.

We're getting there…but the initial Apple Watch launch will undoubtedly be a wild success…they have the finical resources and user base pre-installed. The question remains of how they plan on repairing these watches, especially for active use individuals who plan on using these watches on the tough streets of NYC, SFO, and at the swimming pool or hiking?

The other MAJOR concern is the battery life (or lack thereof) which needs to be significantly improved. With multi-billion dollars at their disposal this should have been addressed already.

Stay tuned, the disruption of the watch industry is upon us.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Apple Watch…And So It Begins

Barring its limited battery life, square design, and lack of modularity I LOVE THE APPLE WATCH! What??? But Tom, don't you champion long-lasting (i.e. infinite) battery life, a circular design, and modularity? YES!!! But….Apple Watch is a good start and basically is the first true "smart watch" in terms of its utility.

First, the cons:

1) An 18 hour batter life is lame; a watch should NEVER run out of power (or if it does a user should easily be able to hold to the sun, wind, or shake to recharge.) 

2) A square design is square. Circular, a al Sensorstream Pi, is more visually appealing and also provides for both a better ergonomic fit and larger relative display area.

3) Lack of modularity. This is a big one. So basically Apple has so constricted the consumer that yet another cottage industry of Apple Watch repair is going to spring up. A watch isn't a phone; consumers want customized, personalized, interchangeable, unique, and repairable wearable systems.

The good:

1) Initial functionality looks great; lots of apps for watch face, health, fitness, etc.

2) Material selection; home run on having a variety of price points from entry level all the way up to 18K gold. The international market is going to eat up those gold watches like nobody's business. Societal stratification? Yes, but having a gold case is a core enabling factor in portable wealth (see previous blog posts about the importance to emerging countries of having a gold watch case.)

3) Marketing; fantastic approach launch presenting functionality in the classic sublime Apple-ality. No doubt the Microsoft "RistWatch" is currently under development.

4) Apple Pay; True mobile pay like consumers have always wanted. Tap-and-go. Perfect! And to think, Mastercard, Visa, and Amex PAY Apple to use THEIR financial networks!!! Hahaha, what a coup!

5) Ecosystem; Arguably direct linkage to the best digital ecosystem rather than just a piggyback approach.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Of the three disruptive innovations this blog champions, and what the Sensorstream Pi Smart Watch has been working on for years, is ability to tap-and-pay from a wrist watch.  That's precisely why we first invented the analog NFC-enabled watch face dial.

Anyone familiar with NFC technology is well aware that this has been a commercially viable option for years, perhaps even over a decade, as Hong Kong residents have been using NFC from a special watch to pay for subway rides for quite some time.

Why the delay in getting this to the USA? The duopolies of Mastercard and Visa (and a lesser, but growing extent, American Express, Discover, and PayPal) have been slow on the uptake.

Oddly enough, it took Apple to force them to come to the table--by actually having to pay Apple for the privilege of using Apple Pay no less--to spur growth in their very core function; digital (electronic) payments! Surely the irony of this situation cannot be lost on everyone.

Now would be a good time for mobile payment provider Square to "pivot" (Silicon Valley parlance for changing your business model in the face of imminent extinction) to a pure-play wearable payment provider lest they become another victim of Apple Pay.

The time is ripe and the transition should be completely possible given their existing financing in place, why not become the pure-play wearable payment provider? There's no better time nor opportunity in the payment space than teaming up with one of the major Swiss watch manufacturers and "pushing down" the technology from high-end to middlewear consumer watches. The solution initially could be as simple as a custom NFC chip in the face of the watch.

Square, give NXP Semiconducters a call (31 40 272 9233). Ask to speak with Hans Rijns and develop a custom chip that can be used in ANY existing analog watch for wearable mobile pay. It's not too late.

You heard it here first.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Apple's First Victim, Pebble

Let's give credit where credit is due, Pebble essentially beat both Apple and Samsung to the smart watch market, but it isn't really going to matter shortly as the Apple Watch rolls out. Samsung's presence in the sphere has been lackluster at best, but Samsung has the financial heft to survive, and possibly clone the Apple design features. Pebble, however, is in a tough spot and I believe they are going to be the first brand casualty unless they embrace modularity in their future designs and also strive to incorporate either wireless or solar charging. Mobile pay is a given. 

Some thoughts if you're a small (relative to Apple or Samsung, we're all small) smart watch company:

1) If you don't have an ecosystem to plug into you have a problem.
2) Social Networking, Mobile Pay, and Wireless Charging are the future; can your watch do those?
3) Think Modular; interchangeable components give consumers a choice, give manufacturers a choice, and will ultimately provide a multitude of unique looks, functions, and solutions.

High-end mechanical watches should weather the coming storm; they actually have the opportunity to EXPAND into the smart watch revolution, but most are asleep at the wheel.

Apple's next victim? Probably Swatch.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Think Modular

Why modular? A modular design offers several key advantages for smart watches that the big manufacturers are not considering (or choosing not to pursue, because they believe the best way to profit is from selling whole goods.) As always, I am ready to talk with the respective CEOs of Apple, Samsung, and Rolex to help them choose the right smart watch case--the Sensorstream Pi! (Apple Pi sure sounds cool, doesn't it? Wink, Wink!)

1. Modularity helps save the environment, because consumers only buy what breaks or what needs to be upgraded. What?! How could this be? Yes it is true, wearers of (all) watches, and consumers of most products for that matter, prefer to simply upgrade the performance than swap out the entire system. Historically it just has been impractical. No longer. It is as easy as a threaded case. The net result of this is the ability to up cycle into newer and newer electronics while keeping the watch design you like. Car manufacturers should have done this decades ago; the classic look everyone loves with modern safety and performance characteristics.

2. Modularity offers compatibility; imagine the advantage of being able to swap out both upgraded software and hardware by a VARIETY of providers? Why stifle competition when you can have it compete against each other for superior performance?

3. Dropping off your 18K Gold Apple Watch at the pawn shop isn't' cool, especially when you get 15 cents on the dollar for the value of your gold; I mean really, what else besides a modular approach will work? Threading in a new electronics package for a fraction of the "buy-the-system-new" price WILL work.

Demand modularity at every event, every press conference (yes I'm talking to you reporters that have never manufactured anything in your lives, yet always get the invites to the launch events), because modularity saves the environment, offers consumers more choices in hardware/software packages, and also maintains the value of your investment in expensive watch cases (which by the way, should be the de facto goal--the vast majority of the world population needs a portable, functional form of wealth. Can you say Titanium Gold case?)

Think Modular.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Apple Pay

Before there was Apple Pay, there was…Birdie NFC! That's right high-tech readers, an NFC chip (specifically an NXP NTAG203 chip) was loaded into a golf ball marker and given out free across the United States for golfers to pay for drinks at the turn, rounds of golf, and even to electronically start a golf cart. So why hasn't anyone heard about this device or launched it to the top of every financial news website? Because my friends, a party doesn't get started until the cool people come--that is Apple's lasting strength; even though they are late to the NFC game (let's face it, Hong Kong has been using wrist watches with NFC chips for a DECADE to get access to the subway, pay for tickets, etc) they will drive its adoption across the country.

Why all this chatter about golf markers and Apple Pay? Simple: for those of you who missed the product launch, Apple has both new phones and watches. But this tech evangelist feels the greatest push is going to be coming from Apple Pay which will eventually migrate from the iPhone to the Apple Watch. This is old news to anyone living in Hong Kong. This is also old news to anyone familiar with NFC technology in Europe. But the sheer power of Apple's balance sheet will now drive the 1st of three great innovations in OUR use of wearables.

1) Wearable Pay (aka Tap-And-Pay)

2) True Social Networking.

3) Wireless Charging.

Keep your eyes out for advances in the next 2 steps; probably the biggest unmentioned factor from the Apple Watch launch is the ripple effects it will have on both the high-end and medium-end (Apple doesn't make low-end) markets of watches globally. Their use of an 18K gold watch case was very, very telling. The Swiss are about to get their cuckoo clocks cleaned!

If you're a Swiss watch maker, contact me; it is still not too late to save the Swiss Watch industry and I have the secret sauce: M O D U L A R

PS--Thank you to all my readers for making this the #1 SMART WATCH BLOG IN THE WORLD!