The moment that smartwatch enthusiasts have waited years for has come: Apple has officially launched the Apple Watch.
So, um, now what? Because for all the general hype about the dawn of the smartwatch era, the general public still seems pretty confused about what to use smartwatches for, and why they would want them in the first place.
Last month, a Reuters poll found that 49 percent of respondents were "not at all interested" in an Apple Watch, as compared to 8.8 percent who were "very interested." Similarly, 51 percent of those polled late last year by Business Insider said that they "don't see the point" of a smartwatch, and reported that their most-wanted smartwatch feature was simply to push notifications from your phone -- something that essentially every device that can be called a "smartwatch" can already do.
Apple launching a smartwatch is still a big deal. But it doesn't mean that you'll be seeing smartwatches on everyone's wrists. The smartwatch after all, has been around for years. What is important is that, with Apple's entry, consumers have a full picture of what's out there.
So we can finally figure out how we'll actually use these things.
"Now, everyone has played their hand," said Pebble chief executive Eric Migicovsky -- a comparative veteran in the smartphone industry, having broken through to the mainstream with a smartwatch Kickstarter campaign in 2012.
All the players are on the field, but it's a crowded and complicated one.
There's Pebble, with its e-ink display and broad third-party marketplace that lets you customize your watch with special bands -- all while keeping about a week's worth of charge. There are the fitness band makers -- particularly Jawbone and Fitbit -- who have added some notification and payment features, but haven't gone full-on smartwatch. (In other words, there aren't apps.) Meanwhile more traditional watch companies such as Montblanc are looking at embedding sensors into old-school wristwatches.
And then there's Google, with its Android Wear system, which is working with a number of smartwatch makers such as LG and Motorola to bring the Android system to the wrist. That's similar to its approach to the smartphone -- Google provides the system, and lets consumers pick the model that best reflects their needs. Android Wear watches also have WiFi connectivity built in,which lets you leave your smartphone at home and still let you connect to it from your watch.
It's good for consumers that there are so many companies making smartwatches -- a watch is a far more personal thing than a phone, and it's good to have specialized options. Fitness buffs will be drawn to different features than schedule hackers. Some will want a good-looking watch. Others won't care what it looks like as long as they get the features they need. Most will fall in-between.
But all that personalization presents marketing challenges for companies. If people largely want to just get their smartphone messages why should you buy a $350 Apple Watch when there's a $99 Pebble that can accomplish that task?
To make its case, Apple released three new spots over the weekend aimed at specific buyers: health and fitness fanatics, productivity wonks and messaging buffs -- the last of which focuses very specifically on the intimate nature of wearable technology:
It's still far too early to tell how Apple will slide into this world. The Apple Watch sold out quickly, but analysts say that was likely mostly driven by Apple's core fans -- who are easily convinced to buy anything the company puts out. There's also a question of whether Apple had an adequate supply of watches for a global launch.
The company on Monday gave its first quarterly earnings report since the watch's launch. Apple didn't break out Watch orders on its balance sheet -- the device went on sale too recently -- but chief executive Tim Cook said that he was "happy" with the launch so far, though a report from Slice Intelligence that only 22 percent of orders had been filled.
Predictions for how many Watches Apple will sell are a bit scattered, but average out to between 20 million and 25 million in sales in 2015.
Having Apple Watches in the field alongside the competition will, at least, give people a point of comparison -- and first-hand testimonials from tech-ier friends on whether it's a worthy purchase or not. Above all, Apple and the rest of the smartwatch market still need some time to take off with the general public.
"There are folks looking at this and saying they want to pass on it until the second- or third-generation," said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC. "Do you really want to be the guy who plonked down five hundred or six hundred, only to have to upgrade in a year?"