By day I work in public relations, a professional word game if there ever was one. By night I work fighting crimes against humanity by technology writers who don’t pay attention to their words or arguments.
The latest comes from online tech rag writer Ross Rubin who says the ‘Next Apple Watch faces the long road to mass smartwatch appeal.’ Really? Since when has anything Apple does been for the great unwashed masses of humanity?
Niche, Not Masses
The argument goes something like this:
Smartwatches have been great companion devices for smartphone giants like Apple and Samsung, and they’ve been a check-off item in the portfolio of luxury and fashion brands. But their growth will be limited as long as they live in the shadow of phones.
There is much to argue with here, so let’s get started.
Samsung has a smartwatch? Who knew? Yes, Samsung’s smartwatch arrived well before Apple Watch, which technology writers wrote off as a failure, yet which of the two industry giants still has a presence in the nascent smartwatch industry? Hint: not Samsung.
Notice the contradiction between the headline, which challenges Apple on the road to mass smartwatch appeal, and the subhead which says smartwatch growth is limited because they’re attached only to premium smartphones.
Uh huh. Since when has anything Apple makes been the darling of the masses? The Mac has low double-digit marketshare vs. Windows PCs. iPhone has low double-digit marketshare vs. Android smartphones. Ditto for iPad vs. cheap-assed tablets and iPad knockoffs. Does anyone believe that a $160 pair of wireless earbuds is made for the masses.
In fact, what, if anything, does Apple do for the masses or for marketshare? I have a list. iTunes on Windows and Apple Music on Android. What did I miss? Everything else Apple does is not for the masses because in nearly every case Apple carves out a perch (I picked up some mixed metaphors on Amazon Prime Day) in the premium space which is exactly where the masses don’t congregate.
Apple remains in a unique position to shape the future of the device. To serve its developers, it is bound to keep the Apple Watch an app platform for the foreseeable future. And in keeping with its traditional product evolution, it will no doubt keep advancing the watch’s capabilities and keep it a premium companion to the iPhone.
That’s a very fancy set of sentences which can be translated thusly.
Isn’t this somewhat like a car industry writer grumbling that Lexus or Mercedes-Benz needs to up their game to gather the masses of car buyers who don’t have a luxury car?
Here’s a segment of The World According To Bambi.
With somewhere just over 3-billion citizens of planet earth as smartphone owners, we should realize that such gadgets are not luxury items, but among the smartphone segment there are premium models. That is where Apple rules the roost. It is unlikely that humanity will have another iPhone-like product for decades (at least until voters are given an implant that helps them determine qualified candidates for political office). iPhone was a game changer.
Watch is not a game changer for humanity as much as Watch is a game changer for the watch industry.
Watch is an accessory to iPhone and thanks to the physics of a small screen, definitely will not sell in iPhone-like numbers; probably ever. Now, stick in a solar-powered watchband, a glucose sensor, a blood oxygen sensor, always-on heart rate monitor, and a brainwave recordable thought detector, and I’m willing to bet Watch sells better than it does now. But even 4G LTE and a standalone Watch not tethered to the iPhone will not be a bauble for the masses.
Is that a problem for Apple? No.