Okay, this post is going to deviate a little from my usual fare of social media, privacy, and marketing entries, but I feel it must be said. I’ve worked in the watch industry for over five years, so when I heard that Apple’s got a new watch product, it really piqued my interest. What fun gadgetry can we expect from the computer giant? How will they innovate on an age-old accessory that has claimed a sizable piece of real estate in the “Men’s Fashion and Prestige” department? Then I saw the announcement videos, the renderings, and the previews and was immediately underwhelmed.
Will the Apple Watch be successful on the market? Yes, initially. People love brand new devices, and that’s doubly true for Apple products. In fact, I predict that people will be forming lines days before release to get their hands on one. Then will come the inevitable storm of unboxing videos, demonstrations, people excited for their snazzy new timepiece; the buzz will be spectacular. But what about the long run? What about long term success for the Apple Watch? That’s where I think the product will fail. Well, maybe not fail, but run its popularity course and disappear into, dare I say it, the sands of time. Why? Let’s explore a few reasons right off the top of my head.
Organization. Look, you’ve decided to go with a rectangular case, but your app icons are round. Not only that, they’re clustered closely together in different sizes and colors; it’s simply not easy to organize them or find what you want when you’re on the go. And if you’re going to be putting something on people’s wrists, you can be that they’ll be using it while walking. If we do that with phones, we’ll do that will watches, too, and with every gait and stride, we’ll frustrate ourselves as we tap the wrong icon for the bajillionth time thanks to the tiny screen. Will it actually be easier than I’m describing? I don’t know, but I intend to find out when I get to play with one at the Apple Store…and I’ll post an update when the time comes!
Power. Wait, you’re telling me you have to charge the Apple Watch every night? Or at least you recommend it or risk having your nifty high tech watch turn off when the power gets too low? People with mechanical watches have trouble keeping their timepieces wound and running. In fact, there are devices called winders that are specifically designed to keep automatic watches powered by rotating them and activating the rotor at fixed intervals. Furthermore, automatic watches need to be wound every 2-3 days if you wear them every day. You’re telling me that in this day and age, with this kind of technology, we have to maintain its run time more often than centuries old technology that doesn’t even use batteries? Come on, Apple! You can do better than that!
Now let’s talk about the convenience factor. Does the Apple Watch offer any functions that your current smartphone cannot perform? If not, can the extra functions be performed by a cheaper alternative? From what we’ve seen so far from commercials and promos, the Apple Watch will let you open your hotel door or unlock your car doors (if you have that function on your vehicle), monitor your heart rate, and allow you to send doodles using its touch screen. Smartphones can already be used as hotel door keys, unlock car doors (again, if your vehicle has that function), and you can send doodles using its touch screen, all with the help of a few handy apps. As for your heart rate, a very nice heart rate monitor that also functions as a watch will cost you less than an Apple Watch, and they have vastly superior battery life.
The takeaway from all this: the Apple Watch can perform many of the same functions as your smartphone, plus a few features here and there. Those extra features, however, can be done by other, less expensive alternatives. And if you’re a potential buyer, chances are you already have a smartphone, which renders most of the what the Apple Watch offers redundant. What what about fashion? Surely it will be cool and trendy to wear such a prestigious piece of technology on your wrist, right? Of course, but if I know watch lovers (and I really do), they don’t wear their nicest timepiece every day. They’re for special occasions, and while not in use, they’re stowed away in glass or wooden cases, waiting for the next big event to be shown off in all its glory. Watches get banged up if you wear them every day, and every watch lover will have one that they won’t worry too much about if they get scratched up, cracked, or dropped. They’re called “beater watches”. The Apple Watch is a nice timepiece. Great price, too, but you can be sure people will feel just a little pissed off when they realized their snazzy smartwatch starts to get more than a few scratches on the case and glass. Look at how we treat our smartphones nowadays: protective covers, screen protectors, everything we can do to keep them protected and looking pristine. This will be a piece of wearable technology that buyers will be hesitant to wear every day. At the end of the day, people who purchase one will look back after a few months and wonder: “Why the hell did I buy this?”