You've heard about the iWatch. Unless you've been sleeping under a rock -- or don't care at all sports -- you've also heard about LeBron James latest career move. In a brazen push to bridge two trending topics, let me say that iWatch is more like the NBA's biggest star than you probably think. Bear with me. There's a method to my madness.
King James finally made his decision this past weekend, letting Cleveland Cavaliers fans know that he's coming home. It's a feel-good story, and something that even I, a longtime Miami Heat season ticket holder, can respect. More importantly, it thaws the icy free agent market -- everyone else had been left in limbo awaiting James' decision. The moment that he made his intentions clear, other free agents quickly started hooking up with other teams as if they were barflies matching up after last call at a speed-dating event.
James isn't just the best basketball player on the planet right now, having lead a team to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances for the first time since the 1960s. He's a tastemaker, and as a free agent was able to reset the competitive landscape merely by letting us know where he was heading.
Isn't that where Apple is with the iWatch right now? We all know that wearable computing is the future, but the market for smartwatches has been stuck in limbo, much as the NBA free agent market was until James tipped his hand. The Kickstarter-funded Pebble tickled our curiosity, but limited features have kept left it a novelty item. Tech giants Samsung (SSNLF), Sony (SNE), Qualcomm (QCOM) and more recently LG (LPL) have made their own plays to grab you by the Bluetooth-tethered wrist, but you're not budging because you have too much fashion sense to be donning the ugly yet practical devices.
The iKing's Holding Court
It's pretty clear why consumers haven't gravitated to any single smartwatch in significant numbers yet. Everyone in the nascent industry is waiting to see what the iWatch is going to do, just as the NBA eagerly anticipated James' move before deciding where everybody else would land.
This isn't necessarily a bad place to be. Samsung -- let's call it the Carmelo Anthony of this game given its volume-leader ways despite being a low-percentage shooter -- is now on the third generation of its Galaxy Gear line. That experience, even in failure, could give it a seasoned edge once Apple lets the rest of the world know what it really wants in a smartwatch.
Once the iWatch makes smartwatches trendy and fashionable, everyone else will have a better indication of where they have to go if they want to play next season.
Motley Fool contributing writer Rick Munarriz owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Qualcomm. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.