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Thoughts on the Apple Watch

None of the reviews I read explored how the Apple Watch came into being. Remember when the iPod nano was getting so small, 3rd party accessories started popping up to make it wearable? Turn your 6th gen iPod nano into a watch? The TikTok comes to mind. It was such a pure and perfect idea, that when the Tiktok iPod nano accessory was announced, I said to myself “Of course!”. I think this is the moment Apple had the idea and that goes back about 3 years.

Instead Apple opened up a new product category, one that wasn’t necessary, and one that Steve Jobs would have never allowed. He would have said, make the iPod more extensible. Now think about that for a second. The iPod nano was small, efficient and affordable. Imagine if they brought the current Apple Watch OS onto an iPod Nano? I love the new interface and features of the OS running on the Apple watch, I don’t like the hardware implementation. They should have come up with a universal fastening system that could be clipped like an iPod or strapped like a watch, and made it way more affordable. Then they would have had a killer product. A true heir to the iPod legacy. When the iPhone was announced, it made perfect sense. It did several things at once and replaced several devices. If they had just built on the concept of an ultra-lightweight, portable music player, but made it do more things, with more ways of wearing it, they could have tapped into a proven product category that their customers already understood.

I honestly think the wrist strap mounting mechanism was a missed opportunity. A gap that I think 3rd party accessory designers will try to fill in. But the Apple Watch wasn’t designed that way, and it will just look strange strapped to anything other than your wrist.

I’ll admit, when I first started hearing rumors about the Apple Watch, I was hoping it would replace my iPhone for runs, bikes and walks. The Apple Watch does, kinda do that. But they make it clear that the Apple Watch needs an iPhone. I think that should be optional. I think it should have been designed to fit the roll as a pure iPod which could be extended up to a watch, exercise and iPhone companion by simply buying a wrist band and pairing it to your iPhone. Price it at $199 and forget about the crazy high-end gold version. Also waterproof would have been a plus.

So yeah, in hindsight, I’m convinced that Steve would have never let the Apple Watch release in its current incarnation. Jony Ive is probably to blame here. He assumed it had to be so different and radical, that whatever worked for them in the past had to be thrown out the window (hence the highend useless gold version). Forgetting that sometimes, simple and pure just makes sense. Maybe he had a grudge against the iPod, maybe he had something to prove. But its a clear case of providing a solution to a problem that didn’t exist.

In closing, I see so many missed opportunities by Apple these days. They seem schizophrenic about interface connectors (thunderbolt, lightening, USB C), this goes back a ways. They are starting to ditch their good ideas, like magsafe on MacBooks, and then selectively giving it a reincarnation in the form of the Apple Watch charging mechanism. Wireless charging has been around for a while. Why not make it universal on all of their products instead of making me keep a draw full of old, new and obsolete connectors and chargers? Apple, please, go back to your roots. Go back to what Steve taught you. Simplify and make multipurpose. That is why people love Apple products. The Apple Watch just seems like a franken-solution right now. Hopefully Apple will reverse course soon. Maybe the Apple Watch 2.0 will become the iPod Wearable.

UPDATE @ 16:20 GMT+1: Some readers seemed confused that I was making a case to run the new Apple Watch OS on the old iPod SOC hardware. I wasn’t making the case for the iPod hardware (as in SOC) running Apple Watch OS. The internals (SOC) and the OS on the Apple Watch are fine. What I was trying to illustrate was the “casing” implementation and “marketing”. If it wasn’t built as a watch which fits wristbands but as a more universal small gadget/accessory much like the iPod nano, but was more extensible, they could make an easier case for people buying a more affordable device that could be converted into a watch. This comes down to the mounting mechanism. Also, by making it so watch-centric, they kinda threw out any other ideas of how it could be used. Maybe I want to wear it like the communicators in ST:TNG that Picard used to tap. JK …but the point I was trying to explore was: What if it was more then a watch, and more affordable, an evolution of the iPod personal device line? Apple seemed to have complete tunnel vision on this new product category. And 50% of the solution was staring them in the face for the last 3-5 years in the form of the iPod nano. I do understand the OS and internals are completely different then the iPod. What product do you think will have more sales over the same period of time? iPod or Apple Watch? The other part of my argument was marketing it as a new product category. I don’t buy into the fashion aspect as much as I do the utility. Too much effort on the former and not enough on the latter. All that being said. I’m not a professional blogger, I probably write like shit, and my thoughts may come across as scattered. I just saw some transient link between the tiktok and the dev cycle of the new watch and pondered out loud. I thank you for taking the time to read and comment though.

Carl Moebis

Carl Moebis

...a technology enthusiast and curiosity seeker since photons first gathered on my retinae…

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