I’m glad Wired said what we were all thinking: “Apple’s trying to put a second device on our body without giving us a clear sense of how it complements the first.”
I’m not a skeptic. I have high hopes for the Apple Watch, I want it to succeed, I want to own one, and I want to create content for it. But I can’t help but question how it fits into the way we communicate, keep time, exercise, or interact. That is to say, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPad in 2010, he didn’t tell us how it would fit into the Apple family of iMacs, MacBooks, or iPhones, he told us how it would fit into our lives in a way that a laptop and a smartphone could not. So when I saw Tim Cook’s demo of the Apple Watch, my only response was, “Why?”
The watch doesn’t feel like a replacement to my iPhone, but it doesn’t seem to add a lot of value to it either. Of course, the Apple tribe probably doesn’t need to have these answers in order to make this product a hit, but even Jobs himself said that in order for there to be a new category, it has to be better than the others in the first place. Common sense, right? “Otherwise,” he stated, “It has no reason for being.” It’s just a gadget for the sake of being a gadget. If the reasons for being are timekeeping, fitness, and communication, my iPhone already does all of those things, and does them very well. So to add another device to my body seems superfluous, cumbersome, and detracting from my interactions with other people and my environment and how I digest media. So if this is actually a device that streamlines my relationship to my phone, my desktop, my environment, and social network, why isn’t Apple positioning it that way?
At a point where many of us are becoming concerned about our obsessive relationship with our phones, the watch was a chance for Apple to plainly say, “hey, here’s a device that will let you spend less time looking blearily at a screen and more time looking at trees or books or the people sitting across the dinner table from you.”
But Apple hasn’t said anything to that effect. Maybe because it would be weird for Apple to be reminding us that its flagship product is keeping us from looking at trees and books and the people sitting across from us in the first place. Or maybe because Apple just doesn’t see our ever-escalating screen-gazing as a problem.
The features Apple illuminated in the keynote presentation are just that: features. Again, I’m not a skeptic. With that said, I never knew I needed a smartphone until the iPhone was released. I own every Apple product, I’m a fan, and I am an advocate of the value these products have given my life, my social networks, my career, and my outlook on design and function. I am curious to see how the Apple Watch affects communication, as it seems unlikely we will have conversations hunched over a screen the size of a postage stamp, or scroll through our social feeds with our wrist inches from our face. So while sending someone an automated or canned response is convenient and instant, is it an innovation in communicating? And then there’s the bizarre notion of sending a loved one an animation of your heartbeat, but is it an innovation in intimacy?
There’s a part of me that believes in the Apple vision, and I want there to be a line of products that work synergistically or complement each other to make me a better participant in culture. I long for an era of technology that enriches as enhances our experiences, not diminishes them to another snapshot in the cloud or in the feed. I think Apple can be the company that takes us there.
Apple’s mission statement, taken from this link: http://www.devdaily.com/blog/post/mac-os-x/apple-business-philosophy-mission-statement/
- We believe that we’re on the face of the Earth to make great products.
- We believe in the simple, not the complex.
- We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.
- We participate only in markets where we can make a significant contribution.
- We believe in saying no to thousands of projects so that we can really focus on the few that are truly important and meaningful to us.
- We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot.
- We don’t settle for anything less than excellence in every group in the company, and we have the self-honesty to admit when we’re wrong and the courage to change.