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Ever since it emerged this fall that Apple was gearing up for the launch of the Apple Watch, alongside the iPhone 6, the rumor mill has been in overdrive. If Apple’s success with the smartphone is anything to go by, then this latest product might just be the catalyst that takes wearable tech into the mainstream.

But is it really going to live up to the hype? Or is it more likely to be a case of industry navel-gazing, rather than genuine consumer excitement? Marketers are understandably intrigued by the possibilities Apple’s smartwatch – dubbed the Apple Watch – could represent. After all, Apple’s first iPhone model revolutionized the technology world, giving rise to a whole new app ecosystem and a massive new marketing industry.

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The Apple Watch will become available to consumers in spring 2015.

When it’s released, the Apple Watch will feature a significant health element, potentially giving a boost to the amount of useful data available to consumers on everything from their heart rate and temperature to medical disorders. Of course, the more data a mobile device can collect on a consumer, then the more that plays to marketers’ advantage.

The Apple Watch will be able to connect to Apple’s bluetooth-powered location system, iBeacon – a network of cheap transmitters that allows stores to locate Apple devices nearby and send targeted messages, such as special offers or other incentives. As somebody interacts with iBeacon through their Apple Watch, or as they browse for products throughout their day, that data can be used by marketers within milliseconds to deliver highly relevant ads; real-time marketing as we call it.

Imagine how powerful this would be to fruition or not will depend entirely as traditional advertising joins the digital world, and everything is bought programmatically or in real time – from high-street billboards to banners on the sides of buses.

And if Apple were to allow the Apple Watch to not just share data with iBeacon but multiple different smart devices, both the iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch could start to emerge as the central hub of an individual’s personal data system. Consumers could be empowered in this scenario by giving them control over which data are made available to brands in exchange for incentives.

I wouldn’t be surprised if one day a major mobile network starts offering either the iPhone 6 or Apple Watch for free on the basis that they allow the collected data to flow back through the network and be sold to advertisers. Whether this marketer’s utopia comes to fruition or not will depend entirely on the response of consumers.

As a marketer myself, I have good reason to hope that it does. But I’m cautious. My gut tells me that Apple is likely to have a harder time convincing us to put a computer on our wrist than it did a computer in our pockets.

There is a greater opportunity to take smartwatches mainstream with devices that are able to blend with environments, and not force consumers to change their personal style and brand preferences. For example, Glance is a device launched on the funding platform, Kickstarter, that has many of the functions of current smartwatches, but can be worn under the strap of your existing watch.

I’d put my money on devices like these being the ones to propel wearable devices into mainstream consciousness and open up the data universe marketers are craving.

Hamman-DaxDax Hamman is the Chief Product Officer for Chango. With 14 years in the digital space, Dax has considerable experience in all things digital, and you can find his musings at daxthink.com. This article is reprinted from Chango’s magazine, The Programmatic Mind.

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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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