The Apple Watch – First Update
The Apple Watch is being hailed as the next big Apple development – by Apple. I wrote about it earlier and gave you four reasons I wouldn’t buy it. The watch has been out now for several months, and received its first large update to speed up third party apps opening and correct several other issues users have been having with it. Having done some reading, I’ll give you my thoughts on Apple’s direction of travel generally and the Apple Watch specifically.
Once Upon an Orchard
At this point I should comment on the direction of Apple as a whole. I know several people inside Apple, at a level where they have a valid perspective across the company. Quietly, they have expressed concerns that the Apple Watch may be an issue of form over function, and many outsiders would agree, as would I. I think the thing Steve Jobs did well was bringing together function and form. Historically, Apple without Jobs didn’t do well as Jobs didn’t do well without Apple. it lost it’s way in a significant way, and it wasn’t until Jobs and Apple were reunited did either the man or the company once again return to health or reach full potential. I’m not saying that Jobs was any better without Apple either. Many will remember NEXT computer, Lisa and the Apple III as huge Jobs miscalculations. However, I’ll bet you can’t list Tim Cook CEO, Angela Ahrendts SVP Retail, Eddy Cue SVP Internet or Jonny Ive SVP Design, independent failures? That’s because they have never stuck their necks out like their old boss and rolled a set of dice. Nor have any of them successfully created holistic products from the lead. Ive is a great designer, and what we see in the Apple Watch is his thinking and influence, in other words, form not function. So that brings me to an issue which I think will begin to cripple Apple’s market dominance: it is beginning to look a lot more like an Italian design house and not an innovative tech company with beautiful packaged products. What happens to Apple without the genius of Jobs? Only time will tell, but the product roll outs today would have been in development for several years and would still have a certain amount of Jobs DNA running through them. The Apple Watch, may be the first not to.
The Watch a Few Months On
First off the Apple Watch is aesthetically appealing. It was designed by a British Knight of the realm, Jonny Ive, who was arguably one of the best when he was partnered with Jobs. The problem is, his is a supporting role at best, and sculpts functionality and good looks around ground breaking technology. When I look at the Watch, I see something akin to a Channel suit. Looks great but has few practical uses, and you better not get caught in a rain storm.
As I said in a previous post there are four main reasons I won’t buy an Apple watch right now, possibly ever. In summary, they are: It’s not water proof, or even water resistant for that matter. Don’t wear it in the shower. It has to have the phone connected to track with GPS You can’t connect other sensors to it e.g.. ANT+, that would allow you to use it with third party gym equipment I am not convinced by the optical sensor that reads your pulse and there appears to be issues with the ability of the watch to track pulse rate during strenuous exercise. Looking around the Interweb, there is much to reenforce my thinking from others about the value of the Apple Watch as more than just an interesting gadget. Much of the writing about the watch comes from a perspective of “what does it add?” I think that’s a fair question as effectively it is a much smaller version of your iPhone without the ability to exist on its own. You can wear the watch without an iPhone in your pocket, but at that point it isn’t much better than a Timex. As many tech watches have all the functionality of an untethered iPhone, at a fraction of the cost, is the Ive design genius and the ability to send emoji’s to a friend really worth the substantial outlay?
Previously, Apple has been very good at “the hook”. Even when there was only a slight uplift in a products function, they always seemed to have that on gotcha element that made people want/need to buy it. I think that was the Job’s genius. With the new Apple Watch, I can’t identify that gotcha component. The thing which made me get in the long Apple queue and be the first to own it.
As an aside, I was in the Regent Street Apple store in London on Monday of this week, and as you walk in to the store, the first case, on the right side, you come to is the Apple Watch case. The Regent Street shop is always packed, and Monday wasn’t any different. What jumped out at me as I walked in however, was that even though all of the other display tables on the first floor had numbers of people around them, there wasn’t a soul at the Apple Watch table. It will be interesting to see what sales Apple first reports for the watch. Maybe they will surprise. Personally, I think it will be Apple shareholders who are surprised, unpleasantly so. Life/Fitness Partner or fitness tracker? Not in my book. I think Apple have uncharacteristically completely missed a trend. With Suunto, Garmin and others coming out with products that sell out within minutes, it seems to me people are opting for function over form. As governments try to get people to live healthier lives and begin to introduce disincentives for illnesses which are self-inflicted, the publics awareness of the need to find technology to support the journey to better health will acutely increase.
Summing it all up
I’m not sure many will feel the need to share emoji’s with other watch wearers, or at least those who can afford the expensive Apple Watch won’t. I understand from an Apple perspective why they wouldn’t make the watch a standalone, their main business is phones, but again, I think they have completely missed the markets direction of travel. If I am out running, one of the attractions of a watch would be not to have to worry about carrying my phone, getting caught in the rain and ruining it. With the Apple Watch, if you want to track a run with GPS, you are forced to carry an iPhone. The one thing other tech watch manufacturers don’t do is Apple quality graphics. Again, Apple missed a trick by limiting the watch to a tethered existence by not taking advantage of the graphics quality and combining that with GPS. For me, that would have been the hook. Combine GPS and, at the very least, water resistance, and bingo, I would have gladly stood in that queue outside the Apple store, or at least paid one of the kids!