Mat Honan puts Apple’s latest offerings in context:
The biggest thing Apple showed off Tuesday wasn’t a product, or even a product line. It was the way all of Apple’s products—and thousands more from other developers, manufacturers and services—now mesh together. It is like a huge ubiquitous computer now, all around us, all the time. The interface is the very world we live in.
Leonid Bershidsky argues that Apple has “established itself as the world’s biggest fashion company by releasing a smartwatch that is more about beauty and variety than about technology”:
The Apple Watch isn’t a tech miracle. It requires a phone to work, creating an Occam’s-razor moment for the consumer: Do I need another device if I still have to carry my phone around with me everywhere? Samsung has overcome this by offering a smartwatch that doesn’t need a phone.
The Apple Watch’s functionality isn’t market-beating. It’s a basic fitness tracker that can count steps, measure the heart rate and prompt the wearer to be more active. The device can handle messaging the way its competitors do. The Siri voice assistant makes an expected appearance. Though Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook seemed enthusiastic about the watch’s useful features, they are too boring to discuss – particularly in comparison to the Apple Watch’s beauty as an object.
Vauhini Vara is skeptical about smartwatch demand:
That people are turned off by the high price of smartwatches shouldn’t be particularly worrisome for the companies that make them; production costs and prices are bound to fall over time. What’s notable is the percentage of people who don’t see what makes a smartwatch particularly useful. While MP3 players could be marketed as a replacement for CD players, and smartphones could be sold as better cell phones, smartwatches have nothing to displace. Companies have to persuade people to add a device to their lives. And given that, people aren’t going to buy smartwatches unless they do something that existing devices, like smartphones or fitness trackers, don’t do—or, in any case, unless they do it better.
So far, no smartwatch has accomplished this.
Even if the watches sell well, Yglesias highly doubts they will be the kind of success the iPhone has been:
Apple announced a new smartwatch on Tuesday afternoon, which is naturally big news both to the world of gadget fans and the business press. But the sad reality for Apple’s public relations department is that no matter how well the company does on the product front, it is essentially doomed to disappoint the somewhat-crazed world of the stock market.
That’s not because of any shortcomings in the Apple Watch — it looks pretty cool — but because the iPhone is simply an insanely great business, the likes of which no company may ever see again. It manages to generate over half the revenue of the most valuable company in the world, completely dwarfing the Mac, the iPad, or the iPod. This is a special kind of business success. It’s not just that iPhones are good phones (though they are), but that they sit at the intersection of a complicated web of factors that makes their success essentially impossible to replicate in any other product.
Andrew Cunningham raises questions about the watch’s capabilities:
The things we really need to know about the Apple Watch are things we can’t know until it’s actually out: what does it do, and how does it work? The Apple Watch looks like a more credible fitness gadget than any Android Wear (or Samsung Gear) smartwatch we’ve seen yet. Tim Cook hinted at some additional capabilities—controlling his Apple TV, using the watches as walkie-talkies—beyond the simple notifications-on-your-wrist thing that the presentation focused much of its attention on. The addition of the crown makes navigation a little more interesting, though a lot of the interactions seem to require the same swiping and tapping that Android Wear devices require. But until we see it in real life, we don’t know how any of that stuff will actually play out.
Alexis Madrigal wonders about battery life:
Apple left one big, huge thing out of its Apple Watch announcement today: how long its battery will last. What we do know is that it’s designed to be worn “all day,” and to be easy to charge at night. How will that hope that translate into real performance? No one is quite sure. But the fact that Apple completely declined to talk about the battery may be a bad sign. Even having to charge a wearable device every night seems like a hassle. While batteries have improved a lot in the last 20 years, they are not on the kind of trajectory that processing speed or storage space have been.
Nicholas Carr has other concerns:
[S]trapping a technological companion and monitor onto your wrist can alter, in ways that are hard to foresee, life’s textures and rhythms. And never before have we had a tool that promises to be so intimate a companion and so diligent a monitor as the Apple Watch.
(Photo: The new Apple Watch is displayed during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California. By Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)