In our last blog post, Duncan argued that there’s no good reason to buy an Apple Watch. He said the tech isn’t refined enough to bother investing in, and there’s not enough going for it right now. Is he right?
Well, I disagree.
I don't think buying an Apple Watch is daft. And I don't think early adopters are doomed to the same fate as Betamax enthusiasts. They've been proved right time and time again in recent years - whether we look at ebook readers, tablets, or any other tech that has taken off despite the odds.
Not only that, I applaud those who've bought a Watch… because, ultimately, they're doing everyone a service by making it better and more available to the rest of us. In the meantime, they're getting to use a truly fantastic product that brings a lot of benefits to a lot of people.
The why: Why is the Apple Watch worth buying?
Let's get this out of the way first: the Apple Watch is a remarkable piece of technology. There's no getting around the fact.
Buyers aren't foolish for wanting it - it's genuinely a wonderful gadget. Even the most lukewarm of reviewers admit that they became inseparable from the wristwear. Duncan argued that how the Watch might do things or could potentially do things wasn't enough, and I don't disagree - but the fact is, it's already doing things. It's already changed the tech landscape. It's worth owning it because of the things it does right now.
You can subtly get your iPhone notifications, even when the phone itself is three rooms away. You can quickly and easily communicate with people. You can scan boarding passes, use Apple Pay, control your TV when you lose the remote down the sofa. And, of course, it's the most comprehensive time-keeping device we've ever seen.
There's another, hugely important reason why it'd be a good thing for wearables to take off. It's easy to get caught up in the idea that smartwatches are a fun novelty for people with too much money, but the Watch has also proven popular among one particular group: the disability community. WatchOS has all the accessibility features of any other iOS, for a start - which already makes it a better choice of watch for a lot of people - plus there's a lot more functionality that just makes daily life easier.
Here are a few people who would massively benefit from the Watch, who we tend to forget about:
- Dave, who has heart problems and could do with an easy way of monitoring his heart rate
- Simone, who's hard of hearing and appreciates being able to feel her phone notifications
- Pritha, who injured her leg last year and wants to keep track of how much she walks each day
- Old Man Jenkins, who's prone to taking trips and falls in his old age, and needs a way of contacting someone in an emergency when he can't reach his phone
Needless to say, the Apple Watch is useful to huge swathes of people, and making it more available can only be a good thing.
So how are early adopters helping?
Well, we're a long way from an iUtopia where everyone's handed out perfectly-working Watches that have all the features we could ask for. The only way to see the technological changes we want in gadgets like these is by manipulating the market and making demands of it… which is exactly what our humble trailblazers are doing.
They're making sure there is a market, for a start; and sure, there have been smart watches before, but since Apple is known as an innovator, a stylish product from it can really get this industry going. Owners are finding faults, spotting gaps, making suggestions - then proving that if those changes come into play, the product will get bought. The same is happening right now with Windows Phones. In no time at all, the Watch will become even better than it already is - take a look at WatchOS 2 coming this autumn, hopefully the first in a long line of updates - and prices will drive down.
Okay, so this is dangerously close to the coulda-woulda-shoulda argument that Duncan hated. But let me make myself clear: I'm not saying it's a good device that could one day be great. I'm saying it's an amazing device that could one day be, uh, amazinger. As wearables go, the Apple Watch is bloody good, and it's not just an unstylish novelty like Google Glass was.
So I, for one, welcome the early adopters, and I don't think they're wrong - I think they simply know potential when they see it.