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Why the Apple Watch matters — or doesn’t March 8, 2015

Posted by ronannarbor in Apple, Gizmos.

So, its the eve of Apple Watch sales being formally announced by Apple tomorrow (it goes on sale in April) and as usual with anything Apple, I have to weigh in.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 3.19.09 PM

First — kudos to Apple for the lovely design, and the different versions available right out of the gate: Sporty, more formal, or more fashion-oriented there will be a version for anyone who wants one.

Second — like some other things, Apple is a bit late with this wearable — and what is worrisome is that others, including Pebble and Samsung have had little success with their wearables – be that watches or “glass”. (For the record, Google Glass appears to be DOA – no further sales are planned).

So, the watch promises to give you notifications, calendar events, texts, time, maps, and a few other goodies on your wrist. It sounds great in theory. But outside an initial multi-million users, will it catch on beyond that? It depends, and not on Apple, but on the public demanding more.

As we’ve learned so far with Apple Pay, people like it — but shops are not expanding fast enough to accommodate it. I can name only a handful stores in all of Ann Arbor, for example, that accept it — Walgreens, Office Max, Whole Foods, Meijer, McDonalds, Panera, and Lucky’s Market (where I have yet to get it to work). It did fare better in a recent trip to SF, where it was accepted in other shops as well. Come on, Ann Arbor is a progressive tech-savvy place — and it isn’t catching on. And there doesn’t seem to be any type of public clambering to get it into more stores.

Now comes the Apple Watch — and it sees a bit archaic if you ask me:

1) It does not work if it is not directly paired with your iPhone. Which means for the watch to work (beyond simple timekeeping), you need your iPhone in your pocket or your purse – not more than a few feet away, or it simply won’t do anything.  What then does having something on your wrist add to that experience of using your iPhone? Isn’t it just easier (and have a much larger screen?) to just take your iPhone out of your pocket when it rings? Or vibrates? Or plays your favorite tone?

2) People have stopped wearing watches — its going to be hard for Apple to convince people that wearing a watch is desirable — the entire smartphone experience over the years has conditioned people to stop wearing watches and get their time and alarms from their phone. And you know what? Its nice not to wear anything on your wrist. Its nice not to have watchbands scratching up your laptop. Its nice not to have stuff ripping threads from your pockets every time you put your hand in your pocket to get your keys, wallet, or iPhone. I can’t imagine ever wearing a watch again.

3) There’s a big emphasis on fitness — really? I don’t know a single person that uses any of the fitness apps built into the new iPhone 6/6+…I suppose maybe people healthier than us that live on the west coast might use this stuff? Nobody here that I know of in middle America…maybe Apple will find a way to convince people to use this stuff? Though I doubt it. It seems to me the types of folks who love having that fancy tech in their pockets aren’t the ones who are out there running laps and taking their blood pressure very often.

4) How does Apple expect to succeed where others have failed in the wearable market — well, outside of the initial rush of folks getting on the bandwagon, I can’t imagine it will sustain much excitement — the wow factor is there — like people will look at other people’s watches and say “wow, that’s cool” — but what use will it have for themselves? I can’t imagine thinking “wow, I want one” after seeing one. I just can’t imagine what it would buy me as far as usefulness.

5) Size matters — in a world where even Apple conceded that Android’s larger sized phones are a plus and what people wanted, now they are asking us to look at something so small you can’t see it without your reading glasses on? I don’t think so.

I am certain Apple will have a big splash of an announcement tomorrow — I am sure that it will advertise it had “record sales beyond anything they expected” the night they go on sale — and I am relatively certain that without any “killer apps” that Apple’s wearable, just like others before it, is not going to go much beyond that.

Bottom line: This is going to be a great-looking sleek new launch from Apple — but its usefulness seems limited at best, and will the public clamber for something they already have in their (nicer) phones.

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