Apple’s new Watch accessory for the iPhone seems to garner two kinds of responses. The first is from the howling monkeys populating the technorati elite and market analysts who seem to despise anything Apple does. The second is from customers. As a long time Apple customer I’ve learned through the years to exercise some patience before jumping into a newly released product (I avoided the original iPhone in 2007, and the original iPad in 2010).
Watch is different.
My plan was to avoid the first version of Watch and wait until next year. All the watches I’ve purchased over the past 25 years combined wouldn’t exceed the price of a stainless steel Watch with a leather band, so it didn’t make sense to jump into the first round. Here’s what got me to turn the corner a year in advance.
My wife hates watches. Through the years I’ve bought her a dozen watches as various gifts and she simply refuses to wear a watch– any watch– more than a few times a year, regardless of expense. While browsing through the Apple Store a month ago I asked her that if she could have an Apple Watch which model would she prefer.
Amazingly, she tried on various models and bands, asked plenty of questions about usability, notifications, how Glances and navigation work, battery life, and so on. I thought she was just feigning interest, but after a few more trips to the Store it was obvious she was serious. So, one day at an Apple Store in the mall, I asked again which one she’d prefer and would she like it today. She said yes. We bought the space gray sport model with black band. Typical Apple, the whole try on, purchase, setup, and a little training took less than half an hour, and she became the family’s first Watch user.
She loves it. This is from a non-watch wearer, someone who generally disdains the accouterments of a watch as a fashion accessory, a woman who does not yet understand how time works or is measured. And she loves Apple Watch.
Here’s the list. Notifications, exercise tracking, convenience, Apple Pay, and good ‘feel.’
It took awhile to filter just the right notifications and alerts for Watch from the iPhone, but that required just a few days. Exercise tracking, while not perfected yet, fits in well with the meme, ‘Performance measured is performance improved.’ The more you pay attention to exercise, the more you benefit.
Convenience was expected, but the convenience Watch provides is more than expected. Apple under promised and over delivered. Using Siri to make calls without having to fish around for the iPhone is a big deal, as are the options to respond to messages and email. This week she used Apple Pay for the first time and came away from the store with a package and a huge grin. “Man, that was so cool. I tapped the button, pointed my hand toward the scanner, felt the beep, and, well, done. So cool.”
Her enthusiasm over Watch pushed me to buy one a year earlier than planned. My Watch usage and analysis matched my wife’s experience. The total of using Watch is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s convenient while driving, tracks exercise well enough (with some quirks), and near silent notifications via a tap on the wrist are priceless. Watch may be maturing faster than any product in Apple’s long and storied history. watchOS 2.0 ships about six months after the original. Already there are more than 10,000 Watch extension apps available (choose wisely), and with native applications around the corner the future looks bright. For Apple.
The future isn’t so bright for traditional watch makers, and definitely put a damper on the early smartwatch makers. As Apple did with iPhone and iPad by sucking up all the industry’s profits and accounting for a terribly disproportionate usage rate, Watch seems to be doing exactly the same thing.