The Problem with Apple Watch in a Nutshell

Posted on April 27, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in iOS with 0 Comments

The Problem with Apple Watch in a Nutshell

I don’t have an Apple Watch yet. I’ve ordered one, and through some combination of demand and short supply, I probably won’t see it until sometime in June. But I’m only getting the Watch because I need to stay up on what Apple is doing—and what Microsoft is doing on Apple’s platforms—and I don’t recommend that readers waste money on this first generation gadget. And that’s because you don’t need to see or own an Apple Watch to understand its many deficiencies.

What amazes me most about Apple Watch is the free press Apple gets for creating something with so many problems. Consider the article Apple Watch Has Landed — Here’s What You Need to Know, which I saw on the front page of the digital edition of The New York Times last week. Here are the several points “you need to know.”

The Watch may take some time to understand. Even Apple lover Farhad Manjoo required “three long, often confusing and frustrating days” to get acclimated to this unnecessary and expensive accessory.

You run Apple Watch apps with an iPhone. “The Apple Watch requires an iPhone to fully operate, partly because the brains of apps will live on the iPhone.” So it’s not a standalone device, like a fitness wearable that costs much, much less.

A few stores are selling the Watch. “They will be sold out by the time you get there … Apple doesn’t expect to sell watches directly inside Apple retail stores before June.” That kind of makes you want it more, doesn’t it?

The Apple Watch is something you should probably try before buying. “You’ll want to see how the watch feels on your wrist and looks with your outfit.” Let us know if you need some privacy for that.

Apple Watch comes in different flavors. “There are three different models sold at different prices, and the bands are interchangeable.” Actually, they’re not interchangeable, unless you stick with bands made for your sized device (there are two sizes). Good luck finding what you want in the size you need at the Apple Store you’re standing in.

So here’s the thing. Most of those things “you need to know” are fairly ridiculous limitations. And I want you to imagine The New York Times recommending this level of patience and time acclimating to any Samsung device, or any Microsoft device, no matter how beautiful. You can’t do it. Because it would never happen. Had Apple Watch been made by any company other than Apple, we wouldn’t be even having this discussion. And the New York Times wouldn’t be writing about it at all.

And I think that’s what bothers me.

Sure, the Apple Watch is superfluous, an unnecessary accessory that literally no one needs. Sure, it’s expensive, as are most Apple products. Yes, it promotes even more lock-in to the Apple ecosystem, since it requires a (new model) iPhone. And yes, it’s not even a standalone product (for the same reason). The battery life is terrible. The build quality is beautiful, but like most Apple products it is also easily breakable, something we have to suspect by now is literally a design goal for a company that relies on its customers buying and rebuying the same products every year, or two, or three.

But it’s not any of that stuff.

I understand, even accept, that Apple hardware purchases involve most of the points made above and that most fans of the company simply don’t care or are essentially pushing their fingers into their ears and going “na-na-na-na” so they can’t hear the logic of the argument against their buying decisions. I am at peace with this.

But the thing about the Apple Watch is that it transcends the normal Apple complaints and even the normal Apple accolades. It’s not intuitive, because you really need to train yourself to use it. It’s not simple to buy, and for a wide variety of reasons. It’s not obviously better than anything else in the market.

And yet here’s the New York Times, and others, simply overlooking this nonsense and giving you all the information you need to just plow ahead, throw several hundred dollars at Apple anyway, and take up your valuable times—days of it—to learn how to use something you don’t even need.

This bothers me. And I know that this will make the Apple guys nuts. I’m sorry. I really am. But maybe I don’t need to stay up on what Apple’s doing in this case. I could save myself $400—as I recommend you do—and just skip it. Apple Watch is beautiful, it really is. But it just seems so pointless.

And yes, I bet the next Apple Watch will be amazing. And I’m sure Apple will get it right, and define this category. I’m equally sure that when they do so, its fans will point at this article and try to reverse-engineer them being right about the device back in 2015. I’m at peace with that too.

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