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The Watch

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Before its launch, I said that the Apple Watch would be as much a watch as the iPhone is a phone. Recall that when the iPhone was launched it was anchored on three tentpoles, one of which was being a phone and that when the Apple Watch was launched it was also anchored on three tentpoles, one of which was being a watch.

Realizing that on the iPhone the “phone” is but an app — one which I find populated with FaceTime calls rather than cellular calls and whose messaging history is filled with iMessage threads rather than SMS — I consider it safe to say what the iPhone is today not as much a phone as a very personal computer. And so the question is whether the Watch will quickly leave behind its timekeeping anchor and move into being something completely different.

I had the chance to use the Watch for a few days and can say that timekeeping is probably as insignificant to its essence as it’s possible to be. It feels like a watch in the physical sense, looking good in the process (as the iPhone physically felt like a phone, also without being hard on the eyes)

However it does not feel like a watch conceptually. I find myself drawn into a conversation by its vocabulary of vibrations. I find myself talking to it. I find myself listening to it. I find myself glancing at information about faraway places. I find myself paying for things with it. I find myself checking into flights with it. I order transportation, listen to news, check live data streams and get myself nagged to exercise. It tells me where I am. It tells me where to go. It tells me when to leave.

Nothing ever worn on a wrist, or anywhere else for that matter, has done any of these things before. Not only are these things mesmerizing but they are done in a productive way on a wristwatch. In other words they are done in a mindful way.

Cynics may say it does too little. Philistines may say it does too much. But for me it does just what I want it to do when I want it done. The things which are not done stay out of the way. This discretion is just as important as the effectiveness of action.

Even more remarkably, this tasteful minder is offered not to a fortunate few but to millions of people of average means. In the true sense of technological democratization, Apple Watch is a phenomenon for mass consumption.

Its launch needs to be understood as a watershed event. It could be compared to the launch of the Mac or the iPhone but it is different as much as it is the same.

The product has a completely different character. It tries not to do more but to do less. But that which it does is more meaningful, more thoughtful. We talk of computing speeds and network feeds but we spend much more time and money to visit people who have little to say and say it slowly. We value charm and wit more than bandwidth and throughput. We are drawn to beauty more than to speed. This is what this computer captures.

A maxim of the computing of the 21st century is that the closer the machine is to us the more we value it. It does not get rewarded for being fast but for being a companion. It does not get valued for features but for beauty. It does not get hired for power but for control. It does not get worn because it’s smart but because it’s clever.

People understand these tradeoffs instinctively. They are not concepts that need selling. The product speaks plainly of itself and its success is therefore guaranteed.

  • http://www.pauljoyce.com Paul Joyce

    “We talk of computing speeds and network feeds but we spend much more time and money to visit people who have little to say and say it slowly. ” That’s a terrific insight Horace. As ever, your defining value is in your ability to put technology into a worldly perspective. Thank you.

    • Frank Ichel

      Intriguing. Why is it that we value people who have little to say, and say it slowly?

      • dorkus_maximus

        As…. with…. the….. movement….. of….. tectonic….. plates….. or…… the….. crumbling…. of…. mountains…. into…. the…. sea…. we….. tend…. to…. attach…. great…. significance…. to…. things….. that….. take…. a… long…. time…. to…. happen.

      • BH

        We value rare occurrences—–thus, we value those who don’t
        talk a lot. Take Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer.

        Those who say little tend to be very thoughtful—-Again compare
        and contrast Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer.

      • art hackett

        I understand your intention, but I’d rather not.

  • steve

    Excellent! Much of the commentary I’ve come across thus far focuses on the object as a watch and are blind to exploration of what is different and what might develop over the next few years – as if a caveman have been shown a microwave oven and criticizes it as a compromised box.

    • handleym

      This caveman + microwave oven analogy is AWESOME. I have to remember it. It basically covers every interesting development in the last ten years of technology.

  • justin hu

    I love this!

  • stefnagel

    High touch, high tech: First coined by John Naisbitt in 1982, to mean “embracing technology that preserves our humanness and rejecting technology that intrudes upon it.”

    • Childermass

      How can we make ourselves beautiful if we have no concept of beauty?
      Why would we want to if we did not value it?

      • stefnagel

        I’m speaking comparatively: We value those things that make us feel beautiful over things that are beautiful.

  • jpintobks

    Great review which not everybody in the media that has tested the IWatch go that far.

    Taking with a friend that also bought its iWatch in the first hours of Friday we agree that is incredible to expend $500.00+ is a product we have not seen or try.

    I agree, the iWatch in more than a watch, it represents a new paradigm that will trigger the creation hundreds of new companion objects and thousands of new Apps.

    • Starman_Andromeda

      We did it with the iPad and had no qualms whatsoever. And our confidence in Jobs’s demonstration and Stephen Frye’s review was fully justified.

      While we have more iPads in the house now, we still use the original iPad on a daily basis– even streamed the Master’s golf tournament on it!

      At the same time, we’re not getting an Apple Watch!

  • http://www.jkontherun.com KevinCTofel

    Nice write up based on your experiences so far, Horace. One question though: When you say “Nothing ever worn on a wrist, or anywhere else for that matter, has done any of these things before.” do you mean just for you, or in general?

    In my experience, most of those functions have generally been available on other devices, both watches and phones.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      I do not mean for me. I mean in general. I don’t consider phones to be wearables and I have no knowledge of wristwatches which do these things.

      • http://www.jkontherun.com KevinCTofel

        Understood. I only ask because Android Wear watches, which have native Google Now support and third party apps, do most of the same things. Not all, of course, but to totally discount them with the statement seems odd to me. I’m not suggesting by any means that Android Wear is better than Apple Watch (or Pebble, for that matter), just trying to better understand your perspective. Thanks!

      • Space Gorilla

        Horace’s perspective is obviously more nuanced than yours. Subtle details matter, the how of design is important. When you make statements such as “do most of the same things” or “most of those functions have generally been available on other devices” you are admitting that you do not recognize or understand those subtle details and why they matter. This of course means you have little chance of ever understanding why Apple Watch will succeed.

      • http://www.jkontherun.com KevinCTofel

        All I did was ask a simple clarification to get a better understanding Horace’s perspective. Which I got and understand. I don’t see any reason to debase the conversation with personal judgments on why you think I won’t understand that Apple Watch will be successful. I *do* think it will be and I could (and have) named several reasons in my own articles.

      • Space Gorilla

        No, your question was: “When you say “Nothing ever worn on a wrist, or anywhere else for that matter, has done any of these things before.” do you mean just for you, or in general?”

        Then you went on to say: “In my experience, most of those functions have generally been available on other devices, both watches and phones.”

        That shows clearly that you do not understand why or how the Apple Watch isn’t the same. If you did understand, why ask the question?

      • http://www.jkontherun.com KevinCTofel

        Sigh. I’m aware that the same functions of any two devices can — and often are — done in a different fashion. In my experience with both devices, I would say that Apple Watch does them in a more elegant, intuitive fashion. So I do understand why and how the Apple Watch isn’t the same. I simply wanted to know if Horace was aware of or used alternative watches for the functions he has used. It’s really that simple. Thanks.

      • Space Gorilla

        Again, if you understand this, you asked a very, very odd question. And even after Horace answered you, then you went on to say:

        “I only ask because Android Wear watches, which have native Google Now support and third party apps, do most of the same things. Not all, of course, but to totally discount them with the statement seems odd to me.”

        That is incredibly weird for someone who says they already understand the answer to the question they asked, AND followed up on.

        Let’s all sigh and just let it go I suppose 🙂

      • art hackett

        It’s like explaining painting to the visually challenged or music to the profoundly deaf. Not a simple task.

      • http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw Craig Wiseman

        As a word lover, I appreciate your subtle and thoughtful condescension. It pairs excellently with your apple avatar.

      • art hackett

        The avatar is the Apple icon where Steve’s mature profile is the byte. It was produced shortly after his death.

      • art hackett

        Most of the same things? Like a Trabant is the same as a VW? You seem to be the generic Android target.

      • http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw Craig Wiseman

        “generic Android target.”
        A biting insult to some.

      • stefnagel

        Thanks for the perspective of someone who has tried out other platforms and other watches, Kevin. Love your podcast, by the way. Here? I’d let it go. The mindset has become a bit overly protective of Apple. And Horace. Neither need coddling.

      • Space Gorilla

        Speaking only for myself, I’m only calling out poor analysis/thinking. I agree, Apple/Horace don’t need any coddling. But I’m pretty tired of bad analysis.

      • berult

        Google Wear watches do not belong to the same product category as Apple Watch. In fact, they are polar opposites which repel one another. They can’t therefore ever be scrutinized up close together.

        The formers are the equivalent of listening posts behind the enemy line. The end-user’s self-determination through empowerment being the enemy here. Gotcha…capture economics through a honey pot strategy, essentially.

        The latter is a shared listening post between one’s internal, and one’s external environment, for autonomy enhancement. Cross-pollination economics through an aesthetics strategy, essentially.

        Google Map is arguably the best there is. And I want no part of it. Why would that be?

        Apple Map is arguably one of the worst there is. And do I wish to be part of it?!

        Somewhere within the timeframe parting the question mark from its intimate neighbor, the exclamation point, lies your chrysalis answer. berult.

      • Chairman Meow

        Absolute gobbledygook

      • Eric Gen

        To some…

      • Kenny

        how can you speak in general when you have no knowledge nor care to know of other wristwatches which do these things.?

    • Roguedog

      Then either you or I entirely missed the point of his beautiful expose. It’s an entirely new paradigm, hobbled together from the most urban and mundane artifacts, yet forged into something at once recognizable yet still new in application.

    • handleym

      Don’t be willfully obtuse. You’re trying to make the same claim as someone saying that the iPhone did not change the course of smartphone evolution because it was “just” an obvious update of a Blackberry, or a Treo, or a Windows phone.
      The rest of us want to understand the world as it is actually changing, and the actual drivers of that change. We’re not interested in fighting legalistic battles about how the members of our tribe *really* were the first to discover some new territory.

      • http://www.jkontherun.com KevinCTofel

        I’m not trying to make any claims about the market at large; as I noted, I’m not suggesting one product is any better than another here. I’m simply asking a valid question based on Horace’s statement so that I better understand it. Personally, I could care less about who or what was “first” and I do appreciate looking at how products advance markets, regardless of brand or logo on them. Note that I own and use an iPhone 6 for most of my daily use and I did order an Apple Watch last week after using one at both Apple events where I could. No need to be accusatory here of “being willfully obtuse” in my opinion.

      • pk_de_cville

        Hi Kevin,

        I appreciate your question. Here’s something to assist:

        Reread Horace’s post from the beginning to the statement you’ve asked about. His meaning is clear:

        Apple Watch has done something that has never been done before. Watch is a watershed.

        (And Google will spend $Ms posturing it isn’t cloning Apple’s innovation and, ‘in fact’, it shipped first!)

      • Bart

        I think what he mean about your being obtuse is that, while it’s not completely, 100% “new,” that is only because nothing really ever is.

        So, everything is some new combination of what has existed before. But all of the ‘smart’ watches we have seen before only did a few of the things Apple watch does, and none of them integrated with the iPhone.

    • Kenny

      last time I remember Horace is not a journalist, he is an Apple’s blogger who run a Blog dedicated and supported primarily by Apple fan, what’s was the point of your question? i’m confuse

  • http://iain.ca/ Iain K. MacLeod

    Misplaced time? “The things which are not done time stay out of the way.”

    • dorkus_maximus

      I’m always losing time and rarely find it lurking in the midst of something else.

  • Jurassic

    “I had the chance to use the Watch for a few days and can say that timekeeping is probably as insignificant to its essence as it’s possible to be.”

    Exactly!

    Too many commentaries and reviews have compared the Apple Watch to mechanical wrist watches.

    Even though the product has “Watch” in its name, it is worn on the wrist, and it tells time, that is as far as the similarities go.

    A mechanical watch is a time piece.
    The Apple Watch is a personal mobile computer and communications device.

    People understand and accept that the iPhone, and all other smartphones, need to be recharged every day. No one complains about daily recharging citing wireless home phones that don’t need charging for weeks.

    Yet, those same people make an issue about the Apple Watch, another mobile personal computer, requiring the same daily recharging… Comparing mechanical watches or e-Ink fitness trackers that last longer between charges, but are entirely different products.

    It may take time, as it did with the first iPhone and the first iPad, but eventually it will become clear to those people why the Apple Watch is a breakthrough product.

  • Mark Andrew

    Beautifully written …. Someone seems to have been reading Francis Bacon 🙂

  • BH

    The sentence says it all “We talk of computing speeds and network feeds but we spend much more time and money to visit people who have little to say and say it slowly”—I have to say this sentence is the most beautiful characterization of the Apple Watch in particular and Apple products in general–from the Mac to Apple Watch.

    As a person who was born and raised in Africa, the Mac was my first computer and it unleashed my scientific creativity. The mac always has this enabling characteristics that is hard to describe verbally—like beauty. The beauty of Apple products are felt and experienced. Now, the Apple Watch is continuing this legacy of enabling, inviting, technological beauty. The God for Apple!

  • Rick Kempf

    Interesting – here’s a Krugman column hilighting more “personalization” aspects.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/10/apple-and-the-self-surveillance-state/?_r=3

    • Mark

      Krugman is a nut, and that article is all kinds of dumb. He says “A smartphone is useful mainly because it lets you keep track of things; wearables will be useful mainly because they let things keep track of you.”

      Really? I think generically they are both about communicating and getting things done. I think the fitbit aspect is much like the phone, just another app. The idea that it is the main reason to have an Apple watch is bizarre I think. As bizarre as thinking the main reason to have an iphone is for the cellular voice phone.

      • Janos Sitar

        I’m totally into the passive data collection of my physical activity and heart rate and it’s my primary reason for getting the apple watch.

  • Jared Porter

    Apple Watch will invent a brand new form of highly personal communication through its taptic engine we have not seen before. A mother can tap needed attention to her daughter in class who didn’t respond to an earlier message (and the daughter can tap back “ok”). Children can receive a tap from their remote elderly parent anywhere, anytime to check in. Spouses can send very intimate “love taps” to the office where it might be inappropriate to send a message ring or traditional vibration alert. Teens in class might send a silly drawing in an effort to clown around. Navigation turns will be sent to the wrist while driving or walking. This will foster Apple Watches being sold in pairs and to whole family members, and otherwise become a rather essential device for “moderns”.

    • Starman_Andromeda

      As opposed to calling, dropping by, or seeing them in person!

      The “personal” is a further descent into the “impersonal”!

      • 程肯

        Calling, dropping by and seeing someone takes a far greater effort and thus happens less often. By lowering the bar, there will be more contact. There’s no stopping someone from still calling and dropping by. Hopefully by having someone on this level of speed dial will ultimately increase the level of contact.

      • marcoselmalo

        I’m waiting until everyone is at least a part time Uber driver before I visit anyone ever again. It’s just too damn inconvenient.

      • handleym

        You know, when I read your complaints, all I can think of is some 60 year old complaining to his friends: “how come people are so impersonal these days, unlike when we were kids and spent hours on the phone talking to each other?”

        Oh yes, the *phone*, that eternal, non-technological, totally natural mainstay of human and biological conversation. Hell, if we hadn’t had phones and party lines or conferencing, how would Jesus have kept the twelve disciples up to date and on message?

        Now excuse me, I have to get back to complaining about how if God had wanted us to use electric cars he would never have given us the gasoline engine.

      • art hackett

        the way social media addicts sit together at tables and “interact” with others by remote?

      • Mark

        Hey art, how is that different than a husband and wife sitting in a living room and each reading a different book? That pretty much describes my marriage, where we’re lost in different books and hardly aware of each other while we’re reading. Oddly, or so for those in thrall to therapeutic and romantic ideals, we’ve had a happy marriage for some time. This type of thing has been going on for a few centuries now. Damn Gutenberg.

      • MarkS2002

        I am in Victoria in a long period of recovery from surgery last summer. My wife is at our permanent home at some distance. My brother, who is also seriously ill is at his home in California. My kids are living, working, and going to school in Vancouver and, until the Easter weekend, I wasn’t physically able to travel there to visit with them. Between FaceTime and my cellphone, I have been able to stay in touch with each of them. No one is able to visit me, but the electronics allow us to keep pretty normal relationships. I spent a period of time hospitalized in Mexico and I was quite delighted to see how my surgeon could keep track of my treatments and recovery through emailed pictures from the hospital to my surgeon. Because of the great distance included in his practice, this was clearly his way of doing his job. Likely, the Watch will be added as a way of notifying him of incoming data. I do not know if there is a use case for me and the Watch; but I have no doubt that all of this will allow me to keep in touch with my doctors when I am finally able to get out of here.

      • Mark

        This is a romantic view. Idealistic. The idea runs that any mediation keeps people from what is real. But the truth is everything humans do is mediated. I seriously doubt we’ll ever see lovers not want to touch, but in the minds of a romantic that is always just around the corner. Oh the humanity! People still prefer to eat and drink together with those where it is meaningful to do so. They always will.

    • SentientFruit

      Ha, could mean a resurgance in people learning Morse code to really communicate?

      • Jared Porter

        Underestimate new channels of novel, cryptic, creative communication among teen phone users at your own peril.

        And often just a subtle tap to get someone’s attention comes in handy. One might miss or be oblivious to a ringing/vibrating iPhone at times (whether by choice or not), but a physical tap on the wrist is practically unavoidable.

        For children and elder-care safety, and for in-office discretion, many will want this.

      • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

        Was discussing this with my fiancee just last night. She tends to leave her phone lying around the house somewhere, and as such misses messages and calls from time to time. Whereas the watch would always be at hand… er… wrist.

        Which also plays into JP’s comment concerning watches being sold in pairs and into families.

      • Tango

        That would be a future use case. You forget that right the Watch has to be tethered to the iPhone, so leaving the phone lying around out of range of the Watch wouldn’t be much use for avoiding missed calls/messages.

      • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

        No, current case. It’s a little known fact, but in addition to Bluetooth the Watch can talk to the phone via WiFi if the phone and watch are on the same network.

        So as long as both are home, both will work.

      • Craig C.

        Actually even if your iPhone is dead it will still perform some functions- this, according to Yahoo’s David Pogue:

        “When the watch is in a known Wi-Fi hotspot, the watch can perform the most essential online functions even when your phone is completely dead, turned off, or absent. It can query Siri, for example, send and receive texts, and send/receive drawings and tap patterns to other watch owners.”

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        The watch will remain connected to the iPhone as long as they are on the same wifi network so you can leave your phone anywhere in your home or office. This was the reason wifi was included on the Watch.

      • pk_de_cville

        Can someone explain some wifi to me?

        I’ve read reports where they say Watch will connect (and do work to some extent) with any //known// wifi network. What does //known// mean? Known as in known in Apple’s wifi DB?

        (I accept that Watch won’t stay connected to iPhone if on a different wifi net.)

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Any network known to the iPhone to which it is paired, I assume.

      • 程肯

        I’m guessing like your iPhone. Once you’ve approved your iPhone to use a network, then that network is “known”. If you check your iPhone, you’ll see a list of networks that you’ve encountered on your daily journey that you’ve accepted as “known” networks.

  • berult

    “The things which are not done time stay out of the way.”

    For the author to explain it further, would irrevocably alter his original thought into a mere afterthought. I will plunge head on with quite possibly the coarsest of splash, whereto the quoted author would have to dip his toes with the subtlest of bows.

    It actually plays out in three dimensional space and one dimension of time… The immediacy of benefitting, free electron-like, from a…closing in on the absolute…disposable moment in time.

    “The things which are “…” not done “X” stay out of the way.”
    …whereby time inflicts a whammy, rightfully elevated to the power of two, on whimsical intruders.

    My apologies to the author, and to the readership of this blog, for tempering high wired elegance with its logical understudy… berult.

    • Sharon Sharalike

      You’re not by any chance related to that Time Cube guy, are you? 😉

      • marcoselmalo

        Berult is our resident poet. Don’t dismiss what he has to say out of hand. He’s quite the perceptive fellow and has shared with us quite a few creative insights.

      • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

        i wont dismiss it out of hand, but rather inability to parse the meaning of the words i read three times.

      • Eric Gen

        It takes practice. The more comments of Berult you read, the more things tend to illuminate. It’s an acquired taste and doesn’t fit everyone’s palate (or is that palette?). While I don’t claim to always understand them in as much depth as they’re meant, I do always find them informative and quite enjoyable.

      • marcoselmalo

        I sometimes have that problem with poetry in general. 😉

  • Starman_Andromeda

    Nice column, but must strongly disagree with this

    “Even more remarkably, this tasteful minder is offered not to a fortunate few but to millions of people of average means”

    “average” means? You must live among the upper-middle class or 1%! And, are clearly referring to narrow slice of the country and planet!

    People of *average* means are hardly going to be buying a $350, $650, or greater smart watch. It’s a stretch even for them to afford an iPhone 6 with contract!

    “In the true sense of technological democratization, Apple Watch is a phenomenon for mass consumption.”

    If they were ever to sell it for $99, then they’d be targeting mass consumption; until then, they are providing a brilliant product to the well-heeled!

    • ptmmac

      I think you need merely wait for 2 years to go by and it will retail for $199. Which is cheap to anyone who can afford an iPhone and phone line. You are correct that Apple is targeting the top 25% income earners in the world, but that is a pretty wide demographic for people online. The Awatch will drive forward the internet of things as well.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        Top 25% is over one billion people.

      • BMc

        My opinion is that, when a new Apple Watch model is released, Apple will not continue to offer the previous years models at a discount like they currently do with iPhones and iPads.

        Or if they do, it will be one model only (e.g. silver aluminum sport model).

    • 程肯

      It’s an aspirational product to people of average means.

    • handleym

      You do realize that the 2015 version of the Apple watch is not the last version ever to be made…?
      When the 2016 model comes out, the 2015 price will drop — either “officially” ala iPhone pricing, or unofficially via eBay. And so on with the 2017 and 2018 models.

      If you’re going to criticize Apple and capitalism, at least criticize something that makes sense. If you insist on displaying an utter ignorance of the pricing of electronics over the past 50 years, let alone the past 5 years, don’t be surprised when people dismiss you as so clueless as to be sad.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      To calibrate, in 2012 the per capita spending in the US on clothing (apparel) was $1170/yr. The budget for the Watch will come from this. Incidentally, I also expect China to generate higher revenues than the US on this product even though the budge is far lower. China urban 30-35y old employed female apparel spending is $650/yr.

      • pk_de_cville

        Horace,

        Nice idea about calibration., Here’s another: Watch is targeted to //iPhone owners//.

        iPhone owners are above ‘average means’ – most of them have the $$$, but do they have the itch? A suggested edit:

        “Even more remarkably, this tasteful minder is offered not to a fortunate few but to 500M iPhone owners!”

      • http://www.infocrest.com Jean Abi-Jaoude

        The non-iPhone folks with the “itch” for  watch will have a good reason now to become iPhone owners… Win/win

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        I disagree. The watch will cause iPhones to be purchased by those who don’t currently have one. See previous post on the addressable market for the Watch being the number of wrists. See also previous post on How Will We Measure Watch Success.
        The market for iPod did not turn out to be Mac users and the market for iPhones did not turn out to be Blackberry users.

      • jeff g

        In support of this, I just read today, can’t recall which survey, said that 8% of other (Non-Apple) handset users would consider switching to iPhone, in order to be able to use the Apple Watch.

        And, with the new Android to Apple trade in program, and love-fest hundreds of millions of users world wide are having with Apple products, I’d be surprised if it’s only 8%

      • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

        There’s a good chance that inside… ummm…. three years or so, the watch will become a standalone entity, able to operate without a phone in the immediate proximity.

        At which point in time it’s not solely tied to iPhone owners. (Apple could also port the supporting system over to Android, as they did with iPod/iTunes on Windows.)

      • http://nothing2fancy.com kubi

        I think we *could* see a standalone watch within three years, but I don’t think we will. Apple has a history of prioritizing the thinness of their devices over most anything else. Other than onboard GPS and faster processor and bluetooth, I don’t see them adding any more features to this watch until it’s at least ½ as thick as the current model.

      • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

        it has bluetooth already

      • http://nothing2fancy.com kubi

        *faster* bluetooth

      • rationalchrist

        Is this corollary right: apparel industry will be affected just like digital camera?

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu
    • BMc

      You are being a little bit sensationalistic with this one. At $350 starting point, it is well within the “aspirational means” for a very wide swath of people – lots more than the “1%”. As noted below, in US, I am sure at least the top 25% could own this, if not more. That is 10’s of millions in the US, and hundreds of millions globally (not getting into the fine details of iPhone ownership which limits the target market at the moment).

      Mobile phone ownership is very widespread, and that costs more than $350/year (yes it is much more useful too – but the point is to illustrate what is affordable). Many people with limited incomes still save up to buy a good pair of shoes, clothes, purse, etc. Many also have daily habits, which over the course of a year are way greater than $350.

      There seems to be a large number of people (or internet forum commenters) that believe tech should priced to make it disposable. Price it at $99 so people can try it & not care then if they throw it in a drawer and never use it. Perhaps that is why so many claim to dislike Apple – they never price their products in this fashion, believing that their products have value.

    • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

      You realize, of course, that the original iPod sold for $399, and that many “average” people eventually owned one.

      • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

        people forget that. $399 in 2001, for 5gb, and all it did was play music…

      • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

        BTW, adjusted for inflation, a $399 iPod would cost $474 today.

    • sdbryan

      Walk around any working class apartment complex and notice how many have $400 game consoles. If people value devices like an Apple watch that price can be managed. Like the iPod touch there is no monthly charge associated. The real gating factor initially will be the iPhone requirement and associated monthly charge. Luckily for Apple there seems to be some price competition among carriers lately.

    • henry3dogg

      Probably people of average means aren’t going to be buying the $500 or $10,000 version. But that is irrelevant since there is a $350 version.
      Wikipedia gives US GDP per capita as about $53,000.
      Explain again why average people in the U.S. cant afford this personal computer if they want it!

    • Bart

      It’s no more expensive than iPod, it merely doesn’t end at $400-600.

      It will be used to sell iPhones, basically. It’s never going to work on copycat systems.

    • tiger

      Name me a decent watch with SAPPHIRE crystal BELOW $500 (regular price). Feel free to search.

    • Sacto_Joe

      Dude, you’ve never heard of “credit”? Many more people can afford something at this price point by paying for it over time. And remember: Time is money, so if it makes your life easier and gives you more time, it can literally pay for itself.
      Bad move, pulling the 1% argument….

  • Childermass

    Thanks, Horace.

    Intimate!

  • James

    Loved this article! thanks.

  • Hubert

    Beautifully said!

  • Wee Keat

    So wise and insightful – a rare piece!!

  • Pudge Wagzs

    Guess it depends on what you call success or excess. Necessary or more hype than utility. Another gadget of human distraction.

    • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

      Question: Are you using an iPhone or Android phone, or are you still sporting a Motorola RAZR or Blackberry? Because you could have said exactly the same thing regarding the 2007 iPhone, and it and it’s brethren went on to change the face of mobile technology.

      Similarly, wearable technology is in it’s infancy, and from communications to health care, to daily interaction with the world around us, in just a few short years it’s going to make a major, major impact in our lives and in how we communicate with each other and with the devices and environment around us.

      But yeah, go ahead and dismiss it as hype.

      • http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw Craig Wiseman

        But it is massive amounts of hype. The real question is, “Does the Apple Watch live up to the hype?”
        And fawning articles like this don’t really help to determine that.

      • Mark Jones

        Did iPhone live up to the hype in 2007? Or did it (and its Android brethren) not only live up to it and way surpass it today?

        In 2007, some people saw the massive change that was coming. In 2015, some people are seeing another significant change coming, not only in the product itself, but also in the retailingof the product.

      • http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw Craig Wiseman

        That’s a very useful comparison. I would say that the iPhone 1 opened up thinking about what was possible and that the iPhone 3 lived up to the hype of the iPhone 1.
        I imagine we are in much the same boat here. The Apple Watch (more than Google, Pebble, or fitbit, etc) will set the focus and bar on the experience and use cases rather than focusing only on the technology for its on sake. And then we’ll see that focus mature over time in later versions and actually fulfill the promise (ie, hype).

      • mistake

        Do you think many people who bought the original iPhone look back today and think they made a mistake?

      • http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw Craig Wiseman

        “Did the first gen live up to the hype?” and “Did the first gen buyers make a mistake?” are completely different questions. You might should ask folks who bought the first gen, but my personal criteria would be “Did the device do what I needed it to do?” In the Apple ecosystem, that should be taken as both a physical and metaphysical question.

      • mistake

        Well, I have no idea what “lived up to the hype” means, or how one would evaluate it, so I proposed a related metric. Seems either trite or a simple result of the fact that products change & improve more quickly at the beginning of their life, much like people.

      • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

        The vast majority of Horace’s articles are fact-based and heavy on statistics and industry analysis.

        So the fact that Horace felt compelled to write such a “fawning” article should have given you a fairly good indication as to whether or not the hype might be justified…

      • henry3dogg

        Don’t just repeatedly state its hype, because that is just hype (against). Provide some examples of the hype.
        Isn’t it Apple’s most personal device? OK, what was?
        Doesn’t it keep time to 50ms? Show us the statistics.
        Doesn’t touch enable new forms of communication? Make a case against.

      • http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw Craig Wiseman

        So, it’s hype to note that there’s too much hype and not enough substance yet. Personally, I’m waiting seeing an actual device and how people actually interact with it before determining “the case” either way.
        This will be an interesting cycle to observe as the “experience” and how you *feel* about the experience becomes more important than the actual hardware.

      • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

        “Personally, I’m waiting seeing an actual device…”

        I’ve used one and Horace has used one, and yet you’re willing to dismiss his article and my comments regarding the device’s capabilities and potential as “hype” based on… nothing at all?

      • http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw Craig Wiseman

        Why, yes, I’m willing to read your observations and evaluate them.

      • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

        “Personally, I’m waiting seeing an actual device….”

        ‘Nuff said.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        If hype is defined as a collective excitement about the unfolding potential of wrist-computing and all the personal/transparent powers it can facilitate then OK bring on the hype !

        Hype is all about the fact that people are social animals and we love to share excitement around new things.

      • http://www.Wiseman.La/cpw Craig Wiseman

        hype1
        hīp/
        informal
        noun
        1.
        extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion.”she relied on hype and headlines to stoke up interest in her music”
        synonyms:publicity, advertising, promotion, marketing, exposure; More

        verb
        1.
        promote or publicize (a product or idea) intensively, often exaggerating its importance or benefits.”an industry quick to hype its products”
        synonyms:publicize, advertise, promote, push, boost, merchandise, build up;
        informalplug”a stunt to hype a new product”

      • SubstrateUndertow

        Yes that definition list all hype’s commercial motives/methods but ultimately hype is only useful and operable because of our willingness/propensity to get caught up in a shared excitement about some new thing or process.

        Much lie a good lie rides in on a grain of truth .

    • Mark

      Is it more hype than utility, or are you expressing that you value an idealistic vision you have more than actual utility. I have a friend that runs his business from his iphone. Is the distraction you speak of a distraction from a supposed arcadian pastoral harmony with nature? Because that is a figment of the imagination.

    • SubstrateUndertow

      Did you mean to say “Re-traction” as in regaining a more direct visceral control over many tech biological-extensions that have become to convoluted/indirect ?

  • Secular_Investor

    Thanks. This is the best description of what an Apple Watch does that I have ever read:

    “”However it does not feel like a watch conceptually. I find myself drawn into a conversation by its vocabulary of vibrations. I find myself talking to it. I find myself listening to it. I find myself glancing at information about faraway places. I find myself paying for things with it. I find myself checking into flights with it. I order transportation, listen to news, check live data streams and get myself nagged to exercise. It tells me where I am. It tells me where to go. It tells me when to leave.””

    Apple should hire you to copy-write some of their Adverts…LOL

  • Starsdust

    Excellent article!!!

  • iObserver

    Excellent, poetic analysis. Now, time to wait and see if these prognostications hold true and attain mass adoption. From what i have read, it seems you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    I love the bit about visiting people who speak slowly and with wit. The tech reviewers often don’t see this side of the coin and instead get tunnel vision in the tunnel of speeds and feeds.

  • Martin

    An opportunity largely undiscussed with Watch is that Apple has the capacity and positioning to regularly bring in different designers and launch distinct style lines around common hardware. New bands, new case styles, etc. Once they go the route of jewelry they get the benefits of jewelry buying on top of their market reach.

    Tissot sells hundreds of thousands of watches at Watch prices. What would you do with styling and options if you had two orders of magnitude higher sales at comparable price/margins?

    • http://www.isights.org/ Michael Long

      Apple doesn’t have to get involved at all. Plenty of designers, for example, have created their own iPhone cases, iPad covers, etc..

      I am wondering, however, when we’re going to see project (RED) bands and, like with the iPod nano, what next season’s colors will be…

  • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

    I don’t wear a watch so I don’t need Apple Watch to do the jobs a watch does and I don’t see it as a watch but as a wearable personal computer, a companion to be with me more than my phone does.
    When the iPhone was launched the phone function was just an app, but an important one since every other device before the iPhone was used mostly to do phone calls and messages. That app should satisfy the use case already established for phone devices.
    Many peoples wears watches and they have an established use case for they watches, so the app on the Apple Watch has to replace exiting watch use cases for people who wear watches.
    In this beautiful post Horace says that the watch app is insignificant to the essence of an Apple Watch, I agree, but for people wearing watches I think the significance is different since they have to convert to replace their watch before using all the new features of the Apple Watch.
    It is more difficult to make people change habits than to make people create new habits, the watch app has a difficult task and its importance has not to be undervalued.

  • http://dazne.net Rishabh R. Dassani

    Excellent analysis, Horace. Yours is one of the few posts on the Apple Watch I enjoyed reading along with John Gruber’s and Ben Bajarin’s.

    Two problems I’m seeing with most of the tech reviews in the news.

    First is that a large portion of the tech reviewers seemed to focus on the specs of the Watch rather than understanding the context for which it’s designed for. And I don’t blame them entirely because Apple is partly responsible for that. Apple could have done a better job of communicating the function of the Watch in their messaging.

    And the second problem with these reviews is that these tech journalists are *not* reviewing from the average consumer’s perspective.

    Btw, I also shared my initial thoughts on the Watch at http://dazne.me/post/115962022266/apple-watch.

    • SubstrateUndertow

      “First is that a large portion of the tech reviewers seemed to focus on the specs of the Watch rather than understanding the context for which it’s designed for. And I don’t blame them entirely because Apple is partly responsible for that.”

      That may be somewhat of a “detective Columbo” strategy on Apple’s part.

      This product is more about stealth long-play market capture than any of Apple’s previous products.

      Down playing the subtle social-substrate scope of this evolving new eco-system/context increases the likelihood that the completion will be caught somewhat flat footed without an equally evolved intimately-transparent eco-system/context in place.

  • http://twitter.com/matthewwanderer Matthew

    “Its launch needs to be understood as a watershed event. “

    Fantastic piece throughout, HD.

    In regard to both data consumption and its form factor, the Apple Watch signals a sea change. Those who get mired in the details about its meaningless shortcomings – limited selection of watch faces, the lack of stitching on leather bands, slow to wake, etc – have utterly missed the boat.

    Just enough is more.

  • david

    as with most consumer technology, the average consumer doesn’t recognize the need or usefulness of a device until they get to see it, ask questions about it and then… experience it. apple’s now introduced a new tech category to it’s arsenal. and because they now have a massive following, there will be a larger number of people willing to check it out. like all new tech, it will take some amount of time but, in the end, horace, you’re correct: because of the product and the size/scope of apple, this will become another watershed moment.

    well done, sir. well done.
    @themacdweeb

  • Lelis Lemos

    In defense of Time Keeping in the Apple Watch:
    I really think the 50 milliseconds is something worth considering. Think about it: In a few months there will be a lot people using perfectly synchronized watches all over the world. Second perfect synchronization.
    Imagine the implications: we could start seeing people scheduling events like virtual flash-mobs (people jumping at the same time, trying to take the world off-orbit, or breaking a site giving thousands accesses in the same second, for example). There could be buttons only clickable in a 3 second window of the day. Sports channels could display the time on the screen so you know the exactly how delayed the transmission is. People will start to wake up at the same second in the whole world as their alarm clocks beeps together.
    The idea is that, in some sense, this “50 milliseconds or less” is a way to connect the whole world in a new way only now possible (at least the people using Apple Watches). Is the fastest way to connect two or a million people. Faster than the fastest internet.
    I’m making a big point here, but perhaps it is.
    (sorry about the brazilian english)

    • Jer

      The iPhone has had this exact accuracy for many years. Most smart phones have. This is nothing new.

      • http://cargocollective.com/lelislemos Lelis Lemos

        Not the same accuracy. Even if were, we can’t se the seconds as easely.
        I truly believe is a thing.

      • alex_row

        That’s nonsense. iPhone clock’s precision is at least comparable and it’s regularly synced with the cloud. Any inaccuracy is less than you can perceive. Same with any computer.

        > Even if were, we can’t se the seconds as easely

        Try opening the clock app. One single tap and you can see the seconds and other time-zones to boost.

      • Niilo

        The accuracy of the clock in a phone is measured in parts per million and is also corrected by the network and GPS. The synchronized world has been here for 15 years already.

  • http://blog.insightvr.com John Harrison

    The Watch will really take off once it can stand on its own without the phone. Maybe in its third iteration. When it has a cellular radio and GPS it will be able to replace the phone in two situations: going out in the evening and exercise. Once that happens Apple will be the first company to have a successful “two phone” strategy, and one of the devices won’t even be a “phone”. It doesn’t need to do everything the phone can do to replace it in key situations.

    A side effect of this will but the purchase of larger primary phones. If you no longer need to consider the bulk of a phone for when you are going out or exercising you’ll be more likely to purchase a plus sized device that will sit on your desk during the day.

    • aardman

      You really think the battery and low power technologies that will enable a stand-alone smart watch are right around the corner? I don’t, but I’d be glad to be proved wrong.

      • http://www.ivpcapital.com/blog Michael Elling

        Perhaps we move to a world of inexpensive radio hubs: small connectivity devices the size of a pack of gum with RF and power and maybe some storage and processing. Then we can build an ecosystem of wearables (with their own processors and screens/displays when and where necessary) around us without having the inconvenience of lugging a smartphone everywhere.

      • http://blog.insightvr.com John Harrison

        Yes, I do. For one look at the progress that has been made in phones over the last few years. The original iPhone didn’t have 3g or GPS.

        The chips are getting more power efficient all the time. You could imagine a watch that only does txt messages and only powers up to get them once every ten minutes or so instead of being on the network all the time.

        I agree that battery is a big question. Maybe Al-ion batteries or solid state batteries will provide a leap forward. Or perhaps super capacitors. But even if we are stuck with lithium we’ll still be okay because everything else gets more efficient over time. Moore’s law and all.

        There are huge incentives to make this work. If the watch essentially becomes a second phone that can be sold subsidized (really only matters for the Sport) lots of people will go from buying a phone every two years to essentially buying two phones every two years: a phone and a watch.

      • radiate

        The chips get more drastically more efficient, but screens and radios don’t really, and they have limited scope for improvement because they radiate energy. These elements are not subject to Moore’s law. I would be interested in how the power use of the current watch is distributed, but suspect the CPU & GPU portion might be smaller than you think.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        The strap could be filled with battery power, apparently the test prototypes have a 4 pin interface within the strap channel ?

    • blairh

      I completely agree John. The Gear S is a very flawed device. But call forwarding that worked properly would be hugely appealing to me.

      The 3 situations where I would LOVE to leave my iPhone 6 Plus at home.

      1. The Beach

      2. The Gym

      3. The Bar/Club

      An Apple Watch that would allow me to ditch my phone entirely at home for these 3 activities would be a pre-order device for me. This first-gen Apple Watch does very little IMO that I would want to personally use daily.

    • Kirill Kiryushin

      Your looking too far – more than 5 years from now. But the Watch has already took off.

  • ZillowHater

    What I like about this article, is that it is the only one to truly look at the essence of the product. The subtlety that is built into it. On the surface, people see it as one thing, but when actually experiencing it does the real essence show. And I think Horace nailed it.

  • Jeff G

    I believe The Apple Watch will be an enormous success in part, because of time reclaimed from the vortex of smartphone mesmerization. Smartphones and tablets created portals for immersing our minds in digital worlds whereas The Watch can be a tool for purposefully preventing, discouraging or extracting ourselves from unwanted immersion, especially for those people (like me) who are overly affected by the phenomena of Screen-Suck – the strong tendency to be pulled into your device for purposes other than those you originally intended.

    If it does cut down on Screen-Suck, and increase users’ overall efficiency then despite being a super-computer on your wrist we might expect an ironic conclusion regarding The Apple Watch – It’s About Time!”

  • N

    Thank you for the unique take. Two quibbles:

    1. In the business world everyone has an email address and a telephone number. Therefore, many of us still make cellular calls on our iPhones (which some of now use at work instead of PBX or VoIP). When you were selling consulting services, were you really able to use FaceTime with all prospective clients?

    2. Tim Cook introduced Apple Watch as a timepiece before discussing its other features. The watch face is the default screen. Jony Ive boasted that Switzerland was in trouble.

    I believe Apple is primarily targeting watch users. When my Apple Watch arrives, it will replace my Cartier Santos, which has served me for 30 years. I will miss being able to shower, sleep, and swim with it but the notifications alone will more than make up for it notwithstanding all the other functionality.

    I doubt I’m the only watch guy switching from analog to digital now that a design legend and his legendary team have created a digital watch. When you think about it, Apple Watch is the Santos reinvented.

    • black_obelisk

      1. When you were selling consulting services, were you really able to use FaceTime with all prospective clients?

      He merely said he finds himself using FaceTime more often that phone calls (FaceTime calls, by the way, use either a phone number or email address, both of which you specified)

      2.Tim Cook introduced Apple Watch as a timepiece before discussing its other features. The watch face is the default screen. Jony Ive boasted that Switzerland was in trouble.

      ok?

    • rational2

      Swiss watches are jewelry. They are not purchased to tell time.

  • As

    The only element I have concerns about is the lack of built in GPS and how the device tracks movement. I know it links with the iPhone, but when your performing certain activities like soccer or basketball, you don’t really want a phone in your pocket.

    If these concerns could be settled, I would buy one without question.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      It works fine without a phone nearby. If the phone is on the same wifi network then they remain in connection. If not then the watch operates independently without network updates. It has onboard storage for music and playback over bluetooth headsets. It tracks motion independently and is designed to do so by calibrating to your gait while connected to the phone’s GPS. It also has independent flight mode or coupled with the iPhone (either device can enable the other to enter flight mode but they have to exit independently—this is an option).

      • ny3ranger

        What it should do is anonymously use other iphones nearby for GPS provided there is a user setting to opt into this.

      • http://blog.insightvr.com John Harrison

        The big change in how people use the watch (and their phones) will be when the watch has its own cellular radio and perhaps GPS.

  • blairh

    $400 for a device that can’t reply to emails or respond to texts (when I don’t want to dictate a reply, which is most situations).

    Maybe the Apple Watch will appeal to me one day when it does more (like call forwarding a la Gear S). Right now I find it so entirely unappealing.

    • satire

      “$400 for a device that can’t reply to emails or respond to texts (when I don’t want to dictate a reply, which is most situations).”

      Thanks for the laugh. Great satirical post.

      • blairh

        I wasn’t being satirical. And you know that.

      • SubstrateUndertow

        Yes he does 🙂

      • MarkS2002

        A perfect internet “conversation.” You don’t want/need a Watch because you don’t like its design and features and are not buying one. I can see no reason to dispute your conclusions as you have obviously put time and effort into reaching your decision. One less order to fill making others’ delivery a tiny bit more timely. It would be good if there was a mental/oratorical Internet gym where you and the Gorrila could battle it out once you realized you were being drawn into a battle. Cheers.

    • Space Gorilla

      Reminds me of the original iPod reviews. $400. No wireless. Less space than a Nomad. Lame. Of course those bad reviews were all correct and the iPod was a huge flop that Apple was very lucky to recover from 🙂

      • blairh

        I was pro-iPod from day one. Same with the iPhone and iPad. I don’t feel the same about the first-gen Watch.

      • Space Gorilla

        Seems like it’s just a case of a single limitation not meeting your particular need. The Watch has many, many good use cases and will be very useful for lots of people.

        It’s great that you were pro-iPod from day one, but you are making the same mistake as the negative reviews, fixating on a limitation. Of course if the limitation is actually so important to you that it means you can’t make use of the Apple Watch, so be it. But it does seem like there’s a heck of a lot you can do with the Watch.

      • blairh

        You are speaking in general terms. I’m speaking for my own personal needs and uses. What the Watch offers now, IMO, is very limiting for my needs. The most useful feature of the Watch, IMO, is notifications, and even then it’s pretty half baked. I’m not going to dictate text messages to Siri when I’m out in public. And the email app offers nothing beyond reading and deleting. Other than notifications I personally don’t see another feature that is appealing.

      • Space Gorilla

        I’m speaking in very specific terms. The Watch will deliver jobs-to-be-done on a very personal level, with each person finding different aspects and features more or less useful.

        I suppose it’s possible that you really don’t see any other feature (beyond notifications) that is appealing, but I would guess you just haven’t looked very hard at how the Watch could fit into your life. We can’t really know yet what new apps will provide new and useful jobs-to-be-done either. Seems a bit early to call the Watch “entirely unappealing”.

      • blairh

        In what specific terms are you speaking in? Jobs-to-be-done on a personal level? What’s more vague than that?

        What I find odd is that after I state that I find the Watch entirely unappealing for my needs in it’s current state your counter is that ‘I haven’t looked very hard’. Really? How would you know? You come to that conclusion based on what exactly?

        I’ve read just about every major Watch review published, watched online reviews at YouTube, and have taken a close look at every page on Apple’s site regarding the Watch. While I haven’t used the device, I believe I know just about everything the Watch can currently do. With that in mind, I feel I can clearly surmise whether what the Watch offers is of use to me or not.

        The potential of future apps is simply that, potential. I’m making a statement of the current state of the Watch. As I’ve said in previous comments in this thread, I believe in the potential of future generations. But the first-gen is a pass, for me.

      • Space Gorilla

        As I said, it’s possible you genuinely have no good use cases for the Watch. Still, I suspect it’s more an issue of simply not discovering (yet) how the Watch can fit into your life. The larger point is you’re making the call too early, there’s a lot of discovery left to happen with the first generation Watch. But hey, it’s your call.

      • blairh

        If I know everything the Watch offers, how can it offer me something of use that I don’t already realize?

        Yes, the room is there for discovery. Especially regarding third party apps for the Watch. However that element will always remain. And what the Watch currently offers, for my needs, is simply not there.

      • Space Gorilla

        You can’t possibly know all the use cases that might serve you well, the Apple Watch isn’t even in the wild yet. Six months from now there could be very compelling apps and jobs-to-be-done that do fill a need you have. And that would still be the first generation Watch.

        You seem to understand this, as you said “Yes, the room is there for discovery. Especially regarding third party apps for the Watch.”

        You’re contradicting yourself when you also say “If I know everything the Watch offers, how can it offer me something of use that I don’t already realize?”

        You answered your own question. It might only take a month after the Watch is in the wild for dozens of new and interesting use cases to appear. Again, that would be the first generation Apple Watch.

      • blairh

        I’m not contradicting myself. I’m acknowledging the potential for third party apps while stating that (currently) I have no true use for the Watch.
        I’m also making my initial comments on what I know of the Watch at this very moment.

        I’d also add that I find the ability to respond to texts and emails as very limiting/non-existent, so it’s highly unlikely that I would purchase the Watch as long as I’m held back by one of its most important features.

        Lastly I think it’s pretty unrealistic that a single app or say a few will come out between generation one of the Watch and two that will cause me to rethink a purchase. Especially when, as I already stated, the notification system is so limited IMO.

        More realistically I would need enhancements to potentially come to the Watch for me to consider a purchase. The ability to respond to texts and emails directly on my Watch without dictation. And especially what I would deem the killer feature which would be call forwarding, allowing me to leave the Watch at home for activities like the beach, gym, and bar/club.

        I really think you need to recognize that the current Watch isn’t for everybody.

      • Space Gorilla

        When did I not recognize the Watch isn’t for everybody? That is obvious. The point is you’re making the call too early without all the information.

        But, if being able to type on the Watch is that important for you, then you are correct, the Watch will not work for you. However, you may be asking for something that cannot be done well on any wearable. Just because other wearables have this feature doesn’t mean it is done well or makes sense. It may be that you’re the guy asking for a floppy drive in a modern computer.

        If privacy is your concern re: dictation, it really isn’t hard to dictate privately. Haven’t you ever had a private conversation in a public place? You may be fixated on a limitation that isn’t actually the limitation you think it is.

      • blairh

        The call I’m making is with the information I currently have. I don’t think it’s possible to dismiss that logic. We both agree that third party apps will enhance the Watch. But even agreeing on that point isn’t a reason for me to refrain from proclaiming that the Watch in it’s current form isn’t for me.

        Maybe you are right. Maybe a keyboard won’t work well on a wearable. Maybe I’ll never embrace a smartwatch for that reason alone. We’ll see in the future. Not sure your floppy drive comment makes sense. Even if the keyboard wouldn’t be great in function it would at least be an option. Something many other consumers would appreciate and use. Floppy drive in a modern computer is the idea of someone holding on firmly to tech that others have let go for it is no longer relevant. I don’t think you compare such a scenario to a feature like a keyboard which is a potential solution to what I view as a huge weakness of the first-gen Watch.

        Well actually it is very hard to dictate privately or at all in many scenarios where I find myself weekly. The gym when I’m on the elliptical machine surrounded by others. The train when I commute to work, again surrounded by others. The bar or club when it’s too loud to accurately dictate a message. Haven’t you ever sent a private text message to someone in the company of others? How would I do that with the Watch? Excuse myself and find a quiet corner? That’s ridiculous. The majority of my text messages are simply not something I would ever want to dictate when around others. I personally don’t enjoy using any form of dictation in public unless I’m alone or on the go. So with that established, yes, it’s a huge hinderance that I can’t simply type out something on my wrist if I were to wear a smartwatch in the first place.

      • Space Gorilla

        “The call I’m making is with the information I currently have. I don’t think it’s possible to dismiss that logic.”

        We shouldn’t dismiss it, only recognize that you don’t actually have all the information, only a subset of what you’ve been able to find out so far before the Watch is in the wild being used and apps begin to appear and give us new use cases.

        There’s already WeBoard in the works, a different take on a keyboard app for both Apple Watch and Android. I suspect it isn’t the only possible solution in the works for text entry. But I doubt a full on keyboard app will make sense.

      • GlennC777

        Almost all your posts seem to be passive-aggressive pot-shots at Apple devices, and you apparently feel strongly enough to have posted hundreds of them. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, but I see very little evidence that you have ever been pro- any Apple device.

        Apple is not going to offer lousy options that clutter up a user interface, such as a keyboard on a watch.

      • blairh

        Passive agressive pot shots? That’s a bizarre claim. Anytime I’m critical of an Apple product there are clear reasons why, which I state.

        I’m curious where you see ‘hundreds’ of these claims by me.

        I’ve made pro-Apple comments in the past on my profile. And if you really want further proof, look up my profile over at the Mac Rumors forum (same username). I’ve been a member for many years, and you’ll see in my signature there that I am a current iPhone, iPad, and Mac user.

        My criticism regarding the Watch are points being echoed elsewhere. I find it hilarious that people simply don’t want to read about the potential cons of the device.

        How exactly is a keyboard a lousy option? Perhaps the Watch screen is too small to fit a keyboard. The Gear S screen is larger and reviews haven’t exactly blasted the keyboard. Also, at the very least it’s an option, which is better than having no option at all beyond canned responses or dictation, which is what the Watch currently offers. And that’s just messages. Forget about replying to an email whatsoever on the Watch.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      There was a time when people complained that they could not use computers because they only responded to a keyboard (and who knew how to type besides secretaries). That generation said they would consider using computers if they could talk to them. Now when they are small enough to fit on the wrist and can be used only with one’s voice, some demand keyboards.

      • blairh

        Well Horace, I don’t know about you, but most of my texts messages are private in nature and I don’t want to dictate them to my wrist when I’m in the public. Not to mention when I’m in a noisy environment like a bar or club where I’m sure even voice dictation won’t work very well.

      • rational2

        That’s a good time to use the phone. Why put a bulky (virtual) keyboard on a watch when you have a phone? The task of pecking keys on a tiny screen is much harder than pulling out the phone from the pocket.

      • blairh

        I’d still rather have the option. Consider the fact that I reply to most texts messages in a prompt manner, and that I can’t dictate them in public, it’s pretty useless to just see them on my wrist constantly, and then fish out my phone from my pocket each time I need to reply.

      • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

        To what degree are your text messages more or less private than your verbal conversations?

      • blairh

        My text messages are in general more private than my verbal conversations. Without question. I can and will text things to people while I’m out in public surrounded by others that I would not necessarily verbalize if others could hear the conversation taking place.

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

      Sounds lie Balmer’s reaction to the iPhone with no physical keys.

      • blairh

        Balmer laughed at the iPhone. I think the Watch has great potential. Some day in the future. Right now I find it pretty useless for my needs.

    • matt

      would like to hear how @blairh:disqus would propose giving the watch the ability to respond to emails or texts without dictating or using the context sensitive text responses?

      • blairh

        An onscreen keyboard. The one on the Gear S isn’t great but at least it’s an option.

      • Vega

        That last sentence (it isn’t great but at least it’s an option) represents the exact opposite of Apple’s strategy, which has led them to unprecedented success over the last 15 years.

      • blairh

        Terrific. Good for Apple. That still doesn’t alleviate the fact that the Watch is very limiting when it comes to replying to messages and offers zero option to reply whatsoever to emails.

    • berult

      Watch is a 10/15-seconds optimized computer. The wrist being supported by the forearm, which is itself being supported by the elbow, which is itself being supported by the arm, which is itself supported by shoulder muscles and joints, which tie into the equilibrium state of the whole body.

      Beyond the 10/15-seconds timeframe, stress builds up from one’s wrist being commandeered to sail a riverboat across the high seas. This product category will thrive on people using the adorned, awaken wrist in strict harmony with the human body’s physiology. Or it will die off prematurely from over-stress. What used to be rampant tennis elbows, will swell this time into ‘Apple does the whole arm…!’…

      It’s not that there wouldn’t be any room for a keyboard. I, myself, would have surely homed in on Google Glass, had Google designed keyboard-rimmed glasses for me to eyelash-type what’s left of my privacy. berult.

    • Kirill Kiryushin

      Every moment in time there is a person who wants more than technology can afford itself to produce and be usable at the same time. The saddest thing – this person doesn’t cherish the greatest products which exist right now. To put it in rough words: it is almost as if there is a plane was just invented and one guy says “I won’t be flying it cuz I want to fly by myself with my own wings attached to my back” though this won’t happen for many years from this point in time.

  • rational2

    Post reads like a poem. Must be a truly inspiring product – like a Porsche

  • http://patientambition.com/ Nick

    A thoughtful post. My take on the Watch is that it’s more apt to compare it to the iPad. The iPad is primarily a content consumption device with communication features, the Watch is a notification consumption device with similar communication features. You’re not going to be using the Watch primarily to communicate with people but to receive snippets of information. You will receive messages on the Watch, but people aren’t going to settle for generic replies and an error-prone Siri, they’ll pull out their iPhone. I was skeptical initially, but I’m warming up to the idea of buying one. Probably the base model Sport.

  • oliversl

    The Apple Watch is a fine product, there is too much put into it by Apple. But its not like the iPhone, thats whats Apple wants the users to believe and the reviewers fail to make that comparison.

    The Watch is about Fashion, thats it. Its not the iPhone, its no the iPad. It don’t have to be easy to use either(its not easy to use, does’t matter)

    Jony wanted to be in Fashion for a long time, Tim agreed and the Watch was born. Its not a tech product, its all about Fashion, Fashion and Fashion. And Fashion is a legitimate business.

    Expect more Milan, Paris and Gold everywhere, because its all about Fashion now, and Fashion is not a bad thing. But, I Fashion is not that central in my life, so Its not for me.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      Nope.

  • sherif ashraf
    • Raphael Tongoona

      More or less, yes

  • vincent_rice

    Beautiful article Horace…

  • toysandme

    Great article. I was about to order one but I’m told that unlike the Pebble it won’t warn me when I forget my phone in a restaurant or when I leave home in the morning. When you get out of range of Bluetooth with the Pebble it warns you. When you go back to retrieve your phone and you don’t know where it is you can ping the phone and it will ring even in silent mode.

    • http://www.asymco.com Horace Dediu

      You can ping the iPhone from the Watch.