Friday, April 17, 2015

on the iWatch

(This is my response to a Shaun McGill blog entry on the Apple Watch)
As a person who has never regularly worn a watch, it's tough for me to gauge this.
That Jony Ive quote talks about the parallel with early iPhone:
“It was different with the phone — all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time. That’s not the case here. We’re a group of people who love our watches. So we’re working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists.”
Still, 2006-era cellphones were useful, if often not beloved. The genius of iPhone was packing in what PDA-users had been enjoying for a decade - the hand held computer, but supercharged with previously unfathomable styles of always-on connectivity. (This leaves aside things like the Treo and the Windows phone; here Apple's sense of hardware design and seeing the potential of capacitive touch screens, along with leveraging what they'd done with iTunes/iPod, let it blaze a trail.)
Does the Apple Watch have that same kind of value-add? My gut is saying no; our phones already staked out that space, and at the risk of being myopic to where this could go (in a "what people really want is a faster horse" sense) it's just a strap-on extra screen for your phone.
Gruber argues notifications aren't the biggest sell of the Apple Watch but I don't see it. What is the killer app for this thing? If it's notifications, stuff like Pebble argues that other watches could provide just that. Already there are some hybrids that some screen elements behind traditional physical watch hands.
In terms of other things that might sell the Apple Watch: some of the cutesie communication stuff it does is dependent on the "Fax machine effect", it only works if people at both end of an exchange have it - the taps and doodles and stuff. iPhone was pretty effective with calls, SMS, and then at looking at the normal, non-mobile web. (Though I do know people who get subconsciously snobby about blue text bubbles vs green in texting these days)
Also, y'know... it's bad enough all the laptops I see around Boston (mine included) have the Apple logo, and 3/4 of the phones. People branding themselves with these damn blank black squares on their wrist - but then again I think watches and short sleeves looks weird, so what do I know ;-)

(Also, one downside to reviews of the Apple Watch is clear: way too many closeups of way too much arm-hair)


  1. Especially with next month and July providing the Pebble Time, which is the next-gen color Pebble, we're going to see some definite 'what is it for' going on.

  2. Yeah - I bought a Pebble but kind of ended up deciding I still didn't like wearing a watch. (Not helped by it being difficult to lock it to one favorite face -- it's too easy to accidentally switch faces, and they forced the two generic faces to also be available, unless you hacked it a bit.)