Has Apple made the case for the Apple Watch? It’s undoubtedly a beautiful device. I’m just not sure how useful it will be.
Jony Ive said the device is designed to help us stay more engaged in real life (because we won’t have to reach for our phones so often), but I worry that it will pull us even further into our devices than ever before.
Aside from the beautiful design, what, really, is the Watch? It’s a notifications and messaging satellite for the iPhone. It’s an accurate timepiece. It’s a fitness tracker with a fairly unexceptional set of features. It has no voice or data service of its own. It has no GPS. It’s a mobile payments device. It’s a music player that works without a phone.
While many of us are considering whether or not we need an Apple Watch, Apple is marketing the device to us in two different ways.
The dog wags its tail: If good product marketing is the ability to predict what consumers will want one or two development cycles into the future, then Apple, over the years, has nailed it. The company’s products have consistently fit neatly and usefully into the fabric of daily life of people in the early 21st century.
The tail wags the dog: As Apple has stacked up one successful product after the next, our belief that the company understands what personal technology products we need in our lives has grown. If Apple is releasing a new product, we think, it’s very likely to be useful. So we buy.
Ideally, we consumers would ignore everything else and do a cold calculation of how well the Watch’s features and functions address our real communication, fitness, and entertainment needs. We might also ask if the Watch is going to help us stay more engaged, or make us more distracted.
But with Apple, it doesn’t work like that. Millions will end up buying the watch, despite the fact that Apple hasn’t answered these questions very completely. Maybe there is no good answer. After all, this is a brand new category, and it’ll take a while to see how people use it. I for one am still wondering if I need the Watch.
Yet we’re willing to take a leap of faith. We’ll trust that Apple, based on its track record, knew the right combination of features to include in the product.
On April 24, Apple will not really be providing a thing the market has said it needs; the market will be trying to fit its needs to a thing Apple is selling.
And never in its history has Apple been in a better position to wag the dog, so to speak. The company has a string of hit products, and very few failures. It’s sold 700 million iPhones. It’s the most highly valued company in the world.
So, yes, I’ll be buying a Watch. And even though the realist in me isn’t expecting much magic from this early version of the device, who knows, maybe it’ll turn out to the invaluable tool I just didn’t know I needed.
Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company’s best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t… read more »
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