Essays on Technology and Culture

Final Thoughts on the Eve of Apple Watch

On the eve of Apple’s watch event, the eyes of the technology world are gazing upon Apple with the intensity of a fiery sun. There are so many questions we hope to have answered: how much will the different models of Apple Watch cost? What new features will it have? How’s the battery life? Who the hell needs a goddamned Apple Watch anyway, you elitist bastards?! Can’t you do something better with your money?!

I’m confident we’ll get answers to all of these tomorrow. Including those last two. Of course, there’s plenty of people out there for whom no answer to these questions will be sufficient. For them, no matter how Apple spins it, Apple Watch is just a useless gimmick, a fashion accessory for the clueless, the wealthy, and the clueless wealthy. The more charitable of the curmudgeons think that Apple will sell millions, despite it, but plenty are convinced it’ll go over like an 18k Rose Gold alloy balloon.

Fine. Only one way to find out, I suppose, and that’s to wait.

I’m cautiously bullish. After my experience using a Pebble smartwatch for a few weeks, I feel that the smartwatch is a viable form factor, and a potentially powerful new way to think about our day-to-day relationship to technology. More importantly, I feel like Apple Watch is the best expression of that potential I’ve seen yet. [1] The integration on the hardware and software that Apple can bring to a smartwatch, even if the first version isn’t all the way there, it’ll be closer than anyone has gotten. If anyone can get this right, it’s probably Apple.

That said, a smartwatch isn’t for everyone. I don’t mean that in a financial, Veblen Good sense, either. Smartwatches aren’t necessary for how a lot of people relate to their technology. They might get some benefit, but it also might not be enough to justify the cost. If someone doesn’t see the need, well, nobody’s holding a gun to their head and forcing them to buy an Apple Watch. There are no blue t-shirted thugs demanding that mothers choose between food for their children and Apple Watches, ripping the Casios, Timexes, Rolexes, and Bullovas off people’s wrists, slapping a fluoroelastomer band on like a handcuff, and charging their credit card for the privilege.

In other words, chill.

If you think Apple Watch is useless, don’t buy it.

If you think Apple Watch is too expensive, don’t buy it.

If you think Apple Watch is ugly, don’t buy it.

If you think Apple Watch is an elitist fashion accessory, don’t buy it.

But don’t go around judging the people who do buy an Apple Watch, or would buy one if they had the money to blow. Whatever the reason, someone buying an Apple Watch has one, and it’s no less valid than your reason not to. Whether they’re spending $349, or $19,999, it’s their money, their choice, and you don’t have to do the same if you don’t want to.

  1. I’ll temper this statement by admitting that I have no direct experience with Android Wear. Andy Ihnatko made a great case for it on a recent episode of The Ihnatko Alamanc, but I’m not about to jump platforms to try it.  ↩