Obligatory Apple Watch Post
March 10th, 2015

It’s not totally clear to me whether the Apple Watch will be a the Newton, the iPad, or something in between. But it does seem to be a superfluous-enough toy that it will be considered more fashion than tech in the hierarchy of consumer impulses.

Think of it this way: Technology consumers now have a list of devices and peripherals they need/want. In order of importance they are (1) Smartphone; (2) Laptop/desktop computer; (3) Tablet. The Apple Watch is going to sit in the 4-hole for just about everyone, which means that the potential audience for it is already just a smaller-slice of the general computing public: It’s only an option for people who want (and can afford) a fourth device and already use an iPhone.

That creates all sorts of ripple effects. For instance, how intensive will app development be if the number of Apple Watches out in the wild is relatively small? (Witness how app development for the iPad has stalled out as the tablet market hit the wall.)

And what will this mean for the product refresh cycle? Apple seems to have been surprised by the fact that people don’t generally rush out to replace their iPads every two years, even though they keep iterating the device on a yearly basis. Will Apple push out new Watches every twelve months or so? Or will they let it sit in the market? (My guess is that they’ll do what they did with Apple TV: Treat this launch model as a beta and introduce a tweaked version that fixes its shortcomings in 18 months or so. And then let that sit for a good long while.)

And by the by, those shortcomings are already obvious even before anyone has the watch in the field. 18 hour-battery life? For lots of people, that means it won’t even make it from wake-up to bed-time.

Also: I had a discussion with some friends over whether or not the watch would be water-proof. I argued that it almost certainly wouldn’t be, because if it was, Apple would have been crowing about it. This is a company that tried using the idea of a “unibody” laptop housing as a selling point. Sure enough: The Apple Watch is only “water resistant.”

  1. SkinsFanPG March 10, 2015 at 11:02 am

    I do not get the smartwatch. If it could replace a smartphone it would be great. But it cannot, and it can only function properly when mated to a smartphone. I don’t know the details of the Apple watch, but if it is anything like the myriad of Android watches, it is going to fail. There simply isn’t much of a market for the device.

  2. REPLY
  3. Clayton March 11, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    Sometimes your Apple commentary reminds me of the type of Catholics you might gently (or perhaps not gently) mock. Like you love/hate being an Apple customer…incapable of leaving but also incapable of using without a bit of angst or resentment.

    How is unibody not a selling point? Seems like it’s received universal praise for its impact on design, durability and aesthetics, as well as for being innovative. It’s obviously been a huge hit either way, so I’d argue that you’re missing the boat.

    Did you happen to read what is considered water resistant according the industry standard Apple references on its site? Not bad. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t want a fully want waterproof in a perfect world, but of all the nits to pick this seems so random.

    I agree, though, that the Apple Watch is definitely a fourth device. At least for now. But with a huge addressable market. Still might be a failure, but let’s say it *is* like Apple TV: then the bar for success is actually pretty low (for Apple, if not AAPL) and it functions to bolster Apple’s ecosystem and lock-in. I’m still on the fence if I want one; since it doesn’t (yet) seem essential, it would have to do what it does perfectly for it to be worth it for me. I also never have gotten that into the iPad bc I prefer doing most of what it’s particularly suited to enable on my iPhone. For that reason, although I’ve enjoyed my mini I don’t use it all that much.

    Whereas I’m mostly intrigued by the watch at the moment, I’m more immediately excited by the new MacBook (cough unibody cough).

    I don’t know that Apple is as surprised by the iPad’s slowing growth as much as many commentators seem to be(enthusiasts and opponents alike). Seems presumptuous to conflate. iPad app development could certainly use a boost, I’ll agree there. In fact, the whole App Store needs some new thinking.

    Also, may a smaller size option return with the iPhone 6s!