I avoided talking about this year’s event because, well Apple events have gotten boring. Yes, there’s a new phone and some new service that goes with said phone. Woooo. Can you tell I’m excited?
Seriously. It’s getting old. It’s becoming impossible for Apple to actually surprise us because of the leaks and info about products due to the long lead manufacturing times they need to produce enough stock for launch day. I knew the iPhone 6 launch information down to just about every detail for months. What do I need to see the keynote for?
Except for truly new products
The Apple watch is a whole new take on technology accessories. And yes, it’s an accessory, not a product. It requires an iPhone with a number 5 or better etched on the outside. Don’t have one? Buy one or you can’t use the watch. Yes, that means this product largely exists to bolster iPhone sales. I am unsure if it can work with just an iPod or iPad. The details are a bit fuzzy.
Is it genius?
My answer is yes. This product is genius. That is not to say it will be successful. Let me elaborate: I am a software product designer. My entire job is to find new and better ways for people to interact with and use technology. I can look at nearly any product and point out it’s flaws and improvements to be made within seconds of seeing/using it. This includes Apple products.
The Apple watch has almost no immediately obvious software flaws. It does not feel like a Version 1 product in any way. It feels like they iterated this product 2 or 3 times internally before letting the public in on it. That is a marvelous feeling and one only Apple can generate.
Is it stupid?
The few flaws I see are not software related, they are hardware. The biggest flaw being it is “water resistant” not “water proof”. Honestly, I may not even buy one over that issue. If I can’t wear it in the shower, this watch will suffer accidental water death several times per year. If Apple is willing to replace the thing every time that happens, I’m in. But it’s still annoying.
Other flaws include the need to charge at night (I wear a watch that charges from the sun while on my wrist). Getting through a single day is likely to be the battery limit. The technology to power this kind of thing simply doesn’t exist. I’m a little surprised there isn’t an option for a solar charging band that charges the watch. As long as it was also water proof, I would even pay extra for that.
So, no, it’s not stupid, but version 1 is still not ideal.
There is a better question.
Apple has a strong history of providing new products that you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. It’s done it time and time again as they were quick to point out during the keynote. Is this device one of those products?
Well, is it?
Who is this marketed toward? First, it is limited to those who have an iPhone or are willing to get one to have this watch. Second, this watch is just silly to be just a watch. I seriously doubt anyone who is willing to pay this much for a watch is going to replace their Citizen watch for this to use primarily as a time piece. I wear a nice Citizen watch, and there is no way I would trade that for an Apple branded watch just to tell time. Never-mind that most people don’t spend that kind of money on a watch.
Who is it for?
Anyone who is tied to their iPhone with an invisible tether that feels weird to have it outside of arm’s reach. That is definitely me. In fact, for normal use, with an Apple watch, I would rarely even touch my phone. I spend more time reading notifications on the lock screen than actually doing anything on the phone. If I had that on my wrist all the time, it would be a tremendous efficiency advantage.
What exactly does it do?
These days our iPhones ping and pop and make all kinds of notification noises throughout the day. For me, most of those can be ignored, but I still have to take out the phone and look at it to know that. I can’t tell you how many messages I get while driving that I could completely ignore if I could just glance at my wrist to know the source and subject. This is huge for some of us who are glued to our technology.
So Apple has one target user. Who else?
Teenage girls? They can draw hearts to each other on the damn thing. Anyone interested in tracking fitness more efficiently will likely appreciate it. What remains to be seen is if it provides enough benefits to the general iPhone user to spend even more money on Apple products. Keep in mind that many people get their phones for less out of pocket than this watch will cost. There is no subsidy or other magic to keep the perceived cost down.
And so I predict…
An iPhone/Apple Watch bundle to be sold through carriers and direct from Apple as part of the AT&T next and other similar plans. Get both together and pay for it as part of your monthly no interest wireless bill. This absolutely will appeal to the general public. I don’t think it’s a matter of if people will find it useful. It’s a matter of convincing them to buy it to find out.
I’m still an Apple fan boy. I think this will be a great product, I’m just not 100% sure it will have all the widespread appeal that other Apple products manage to create. I can’t imagine it being a flop. There are too many fan boys like me that will buy this product just because it has an Apple logo on the outside. (And actually, for a second I thought it didn’t. But the logo is on the back. Oddly invisible to viewers of the product.)
What do you think? Comment below