Apple Watch: Yea or Nay?

Apple WatchOkay, 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.

Apple Watch Icons
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!

Apple Watch Use
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?”

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The Facebook Giveaway Scam

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You must’ve seen it before: Pages on Facebook claiming to give away FREE iPads, iPhones, and other Apple accessories. That’s right, FREE! Did I mention it was FREE? All you need to do is Like and Share the Page with all your friends and you’ll be automatically entered into this FREE giveaway! Simple, right? So what are you waiting for?

STOP!!!

Before you agree to any terms and conditions set out by this “altruistic” Facebook Page, just note one thing: IT’S ALWAYS A SCAM! Unless you see news from an official Apple source and not just some Page that was created a month ago (that’s right, check the creation date of the Page!), your default reaction should always be “It’s a scam!” Every. Single. Time.

So what do they get out of someone just sharing a Page? Information about you, and everyone you get to share. How? Take a look at this section here:

Share What do you suppose happens when you click on the number of shares so far? It shows you a list of everyone who shared the Page, image, or post, which in turn gives you access to any public information on those people’s accounts, including geographic location, email addresses, websites, and even phone numbers. In the world of scam artists, this type of information is absolutely crucial, especially when the old method of acquiring that sort of information requires the purchase of mailing lists, which can be unreliable and expensive. By participating in these Facebook scams, you’re literally helping the scam artist! So what comes next after your Like and Share? Most likely they will have a link for you to click on that requires you to fill out a simple survey to enter completely. Like so:

Giveaway

Notice that the top three “offers” you have to complete involves installing something on your computer. Any time anyone tells you to install something so that you get something else for free, they’re either scammed or trying to scam you. The rest are surveys you need to fill out, which requires you to enter your email address, name, phone number, physical address, and date of birth. Getting this type of info from you is every scam artist’s wet dream! Not only that, let’s take a look at the privacy policy of these so called “survey” and “contest” sites:

privacy noticeShown above are the last 3 segments of a long privacy policy that basically says that you’re agreeing to let them sell or transfer your personal information to anyone, including third parties, if their company ever gets bought, merges with another company, creates an alliances with another company, etc. Oh, and also they can change their Privacy Policy at anytime without notice to you, because the onus is on YOU to come back and check the page. Any legitimate company or website worth their salt will send you a notice via email.

These types of scams are incredibly effective because they take advantage of the hype built up by official companies like Apple, who spent millions of dollars to generate hype and demand. Scam artists take advantage of this by using powerful and enticing terms like “FREE” (notice the all caps for emphasis), and “Giveaway”. Everyone wants free stuff; it’s a very basic marketing tactic that’s been around as long as commerce. Don’t participate in it. The battle to end the trade and sale of your personal information begins with you! Be mindful of marketing language, and more importantly, always be aware that scams are still a rampant problem. Every new social platform gives these crooks and criminals a new way to implement their old tricks. Remember: in the world of social media, protecting yourself also means protecting your friends and family.

Separating Fact From Fiction Using Research

What if I told you that you can find the truth behind nearly everything “surprising” or “shocking” you see on the Internet, especially from social media networks? No, it’s not magic. It’s called “research”. Clickbait articles are rife in your newsfeed, and sometimes you’ll see something that you just can’t help but click on. This past couple of weeks it was #BendGate, which addresses the structurally integrity of the newly released iPhone 6. If you haven’t heard about this yet, check out this video:

Yes, the iPhone 6 does bend due to its thin aluminum chassis. But I’m not talking about a test to verify the claims of others. I’m talking about parody videos like this one:

This video does not identify itself as a parody, nor does it warn that you shouldn’t try this with your actual phone. People unfamiliar with Youtube user Doc Brown may not realize this as the video is shared on our favorite social networks. Face it, we tend to watch videos more than we read descriptions.┬áCoupled with people posting sarcastic and satirical comments (which does not translate well in text form), some people may actually damage their own iPhone 6. It’s not exactly War of the Worlds, but it’s a similar effect. As you can see, research is important, especially with the way data is shared today. In case you’re interested, here’s an in-depth explanation about the iPhone 6 and why it bends: