What it is: The Apple Watch is helping define the wearable computer market.
When Apple introduced the Macintosh, many critics complained that it didn’t do anything special than ordinary PCs running MS-DOS could do as well, despite seeing demonstrations of drawing with the mouse and using a graphical user interface. When Apple introduced the iPhone, many people complained that it was nothing better than existing smartphones. Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s former CEO, even laughed at the iPhone and claimed that it would only sell in small numbers compared to Windows Mobile.
When Apple introduced the iPad, people complained that it was nothing more than a larger iPod touch. Yet the iPad wiped out the netbook market and redefined the tablet market.
Now that Apple has introduced the Apple Watch, the same short-sighted critics still failed to see the advantages of wearable computers and focused on the limitations. After all, how can you browse a Flash website on the tiny screen of the Apple Watch or run a CAD program to design a skyscraper without a mouse? Because the Apple Watch didn’t exactly duplicate the features of existing computers, the logic was that the Apple Watch must be useless.
Yet wearable computers have their own unique advantages and one of those advantages is that it’s always available at a glance and that it provides haptic feedback on your wrist as a form of feedback. While regular PCs use alert dialog boxes or other visual ways to send information to a user, the Apple Watch actually taps you on the wrist. Such haptic feedback is the crucial difference between wearable computers and mobile or desktop computers.
One woman, born deaf and now losing most of her sight, replies completely on her Apple Watch to navigate the streets of London by herself. Since using a guide dog requires two hands, the Apple Watch is always available to her and she never has to worry about dropping it and losing it. Best of all, the Apple Watch taps her on the wrist to tell her which direction to go, right or left. Another tactile pulse lets her know when she’s arrived at her destination.
Without an Apple Watch, this deaf and nearly blind woman had to rely on her iPhone, which meant she had to keep taking it out of her purse and try to stare at its screen with her limited vision. With the Apple Watch, this woman always has her computer strapped on her wrist that provides guidance through its tactile interface.
Anyone think an Apple Watch still can’t be useful for different people in different situations?
Every new technology has its limitations and advantages. The key to understanding new technology is never to compare it to existing technology because if new technology merely duplicates existing technology, why bother with the new technology? That’s the reason why the iPad doesn’t use a mouse or offer a file system. If you want a device that exactly duplicates a laptop, you might as well buy a laptop. If you want an iPad, then you should use it for its advantages.
Despite critics claiming the Apple Watch is useless or selling poorly, there’s a growing number of people who find the Apple Watch useful, and that number will only continue to grow over time. The Apple Watch will keep getting better and shape the wearable computer market. While critics claim they see now use for the Apple Watch, many other people will simply exercise their creativity and find numerous practical uses for the Apple Watch that could never be duplicated by previous technology.
Perhaps the real question isn’t whether the Apple Watch is useful or not, but whether the Apple Watch can become the dominant form of computing now that the smartphone and tablet markets are starting to slow down.