Apple Watch Is Missing Killer Functionality We Don't Know We Need

Apple WatchA reasonable person might think I don't like my Apple Watch. Or that I think it's a failure. I have, after all, spent much of this week writing about or speaking in podcasts about how obvious it was that Apple Watch isn't resonating with enough customers.

That is how I feel, but I remain a fan of Apple Watch. It's the first mainstream wearable computer, it has reset the bar on what people should expect out of a wearable, and it is poised for even wider mainstream success.

Furthermore, it has crushed Android Wear under the heel of superior design and functionality. That's not necessarily a huge accomplishment in and of itself, but Apple Watch is making people think differently about watches, health data, notifications, and even their very wrists. That is an accomplishment.

But Apple's job isn't done. The device needs to get faster, it needs to get smaller, and it needs to get better battery life. It needs to gain abilities that aren't dependent on iPhone.

There's one more thing Apple Watch needs, though, and that's a killer function. Many Apple fans—including John Gruber—have been quick to dismiss the idea that Apple Watch needs a killer app. They're right, sort of. It's not a killer app, per se, that Apple Watch needs, it's a killer function.

Apple Watch needs to do something for us that we didn't realize we needed until we had it. The device doesn't have that now, and the proof in my eyes are the empty Apple Watch stations at the Apple Store and reports of falling sales. All of the excuses in the world won't change that.

The things I use Apple Watch most for—activity reminders, fitness data, notification triage, Apple Pay, weather info, and time—all work very well, but Apple Watch needs that killer something-something that makes it a must-have device.

All of Apple's most successful products have had that killer functionality. The iPhone was the Internet in our pocket, and later it was the App Store. The iPad was content consumption. iPod was easily managed song libraries and the killer navigation wheel. The iTunes Store was easily purchased, downloaded, and managed music at out fingertips.

Apple Watch doesn't yet have that one thing we've never had before. It doesn't have a killer function. A killer place in our lives. I'll be the first to note that I don't know what that killer functionality is, but I am confident that Apple will find it.

Apple's executive leadership has a lot invested in the success of Apple Watch, and these folks have shown us again and again that they know how to think differently. That will eventually lead to the inclusion of that one thing we simply didn't realize we needed and wanted so much.

When we get that killer function, sales of Apple Watch will take off. Until then, the device's claim to fame will be that it at least outsells Android Wear. I can't imagine Apple will settle for such a low bar.