I’m part of the latest tech trend, a bona fide phenomenon in Silicon Valley that is inspiring the kind of pants-wetting excitement usually reserved for new iPhones and Grand Theft Auto games. I’m talking about smartwatches—the tech world’s quixotic attempt to mount minicomputers on your wrist. I’ve been wearing two smartwatches for several days apiece, and so far, it’s been an enlightening experience. Though not necessarily a hopeful one.
No one wants ‘minicomputers’ on their wrists. Everyone, however, does want something smarter than what we wear right now. In the history of watches, we’re gone from those weirdly English pocket-watches, to analog wrist watches, to analog wrist watches with date and then to digital watches that support a plethora of functions.
People don’t buy the crappy Samsung watches or the huge multi-function sports watches nowadays because a) watches have been abandoned by many and b) because those options are bulky, awkward and irritating to use.
The reasons why an Apple smart watch will work are – a) the geeks will buy it (obviously), b) it’ll be simple, not a huge thing with ten thousand buttons but a single curved glass (hey, one can hope) with maybe two buttons on the side, and c) it’ll not try to solve all your problems; it’ll have Bluetooth and WiFi but not 4G and will not try to replace the iPhone but augment it with a dozen or so functions (no pizza ordering please!).
There’s also another, somewhat stranger-seeming scenario: that the smartwatch could succeed as a high-end fashion accessory. A $200 iWatch might sell to the tech crowd, but at $500, or even $1,000 or $2,000, a tasteful, well-designed smartwatch could make real inroads as a fashion statement among the kinds of people who are already accustomed to buying expensive jewelry for their wrists. This may sound odd, but consider that the iPhone itself is already a kind of fashion accessory, priced well above competitors that offer nearly identical features and performance.
Finally, I hope no tech company listens to the drivel about ‘fashion above tech’ that the author tries to push. Why does (nearly) everyone I know in the US own an iPhone? Not because they were priced near a MacBook Pro but because they’re affordable, smart devices that have an amazing app ecosystem around them. Whoever wants to sell a $1000 smartwatch can sit around in their Gucci loafers as 90% of the people walk past their boutique.