Apple announced its line of smartwatches recently in case you missed it. The press event was an elaborate sales pitch for a gadget that is highly important to Apple, but may not be such a big deal for you. The Watch is Apple’s first big totally new product since the initial iPad introduction a few years ago. Apple is betting on it big, even though it is not a product that stands on its own. As you probably know, all smartwatches are peripherals for a smartphone. The Watch is tethered to an iPhone 5 or later by Bluetooth. It basically does not do anything the phone doesn’t do. It is mainly a convenience device. As an iPhone user, I have seriously considered the Watch as a future purchase, but for now I have decided not to engage. Here are my reasons.
1. It’s really expensive! The cheapest low-end model starts at $349. And I suspect depending upon the technical and styling options, the average price of a typical model will probably exceed $500. You can get a really nice standard watch for much less than that. The high-end models can exceed $10,000, given that gold or silver are involved. These compete with the ritzy Rolex, TAG Heuer, Breitling, and other Swiss watches that are more status symbols than worthy functional devices. Perhaps the Watch will compete in that arena. Maybe. Anyway, you can get a perfectly good watch for $20 or $30. I don’t think I have ever paid more than $50 for a watch and have never been disappointed. Does that make me a cheapskate? I don’t think so. Apple devotees are bound to scoop up these devices despite the fact it cost more than the host iPhone.
2. The phone already does most of what the Watch does. Smartwatches are supposed to be convenience devices. They keep you from having to dig the phone out from your pocket or purse to note the time or respond to a text or e-mail. What an inconvenience. We all do just that now. Have we become so lazy we can’t take a few seconds to access the phone? How hard can it be? Smart watches are a redundancy. I will admit that a glance at one’s wrist to see the time is still a convenience I appreciate. A standard watch will take care of that. Oh yes, if I get a Watch, I will probably have to take my reading glasses out of my pocket to read the tiny screen. I can read the iPhone’s larger screen without readers.
3. One more item to charge. Yes, indeed. The Watch will have its own charger. A charge is said to be good for about 18 hours and that should get most folks through the day. But that new charger will add to your already huge pile of phone, tablet, laptop, and other chargers. I guess that is a burden most can live with.
4. It is just a fad. I keep wondering if the whole smartwatch thing is not just one of the early wearable fads that will soon fade. Aren’t Bluetooth earpieces a smartphone peripheral? They were once more prevalent but, I do not see them much anymore except in use by workers who need their hands free as they do their jobs. So far the other smartwatch vendors who launched a year or so back have not done so well. Their main success seems to be with fitness watches, but that is just a niche. The Watch will compete in that market, but the existing manufacturers will still have a price advantage for the fitness crowd. Will the Apple Watch end up as a niche, too?
5. It will add to the distraction problem. Any smartphone is a major distraction. It seems to demand our attention 24/7. It has become painful not to be staring at a screen and our anxiety level rises when we cannot continually check for texts or e-mails. At least if the phone is in your pocket or purse, you can potentially focus on something important, such as work. The Watch is going to be another way to distract you, with its wrist vibrations every time a call or text comes in. Look for another whole new layer of distractedness and further loss of productivity.
Those are my main reasons for not getting an Apple Watch. I have not even mentioned the issue with apps or the need to eventually update the OS as is necessary with most processor-based devices of this sophistication. Maybe the internal NFC chip will make Apple Pay more convenient than ever. Just be careful where you wave your wrist.
What would get me to buy one? A price less than $100 would get my attention. Or a full Dick Tracy version with video, one that replaces the whole phone. In the meantime, I am going back to a cheap standard wristwatch. And despite what I think, the Watch will probably be a success because the loyal Apple followers will buy. Anyway, hats off to Apple for its continued innovation. You can pre-order on April 10 and product will be available April 24.