Apple’s new iPod nano a timid move that sidesteps the smartwatch revolution?

“By all accounts, Apple’s new iPhone 5 is a fine product, a line drive down the middle. It will easily sell millions and likely even break some records — the massive iPhone ecosystem alone will guarantee that,” Nilay Patel writes for The Verge. “It’s also a little boring, which has led to serious questions about Apple’s willingness or ability to innovate.”

“But the iPhone 5 isn’t the place to look for those answers. It’s been deliberately engineered to be an iterative update to the iPhone 4S with a larger screen and faster networking, and that’s what it is,” Patel writes. “People will love it, because people already love the iPhone. It might be boring, but Apple isn’t going to take any risks with its biggest and fastest-growing business.”

Patel writes, “The biggest danger sign for Apple is the iPod nano… There was a glimmer of hope a year ago, when Apple updated the previous watch-sized iPod nano with new clock displays and even began selling nano watch bands in its retail stores. The nano wasn’t a very good watch, but the potential was blindingly obvious — it was Bluetooth and a connectivity protocol away from being the ultimate iPhone accessory. It felt like a brewing revolution in wearable computing that guaranteed an extra $149 in revenue from every iPhone owner.”

“Apple could have blown the smartwatch market wide open with the first truly must-have phone accessory in years,” Patel writes. “It’s no secret that Apple’s iPod team was virtually disbanded after the success of the iPhone; many people left Apple, and the remaining high-level talent was reassigned to other projects. There’s no clear focus or investment on the iPod and what it can become next — just what appear to be committee-driven decisions on how to maintain the revenue engine of the past. It is a dangerous sign for Apple’s new leadership; Jobs was insistent that past success not forestall future innovation.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We’re looking at a TIKTOK with the iPod nano stuck in it sitting on the desk. Here’s the thing: We don’t wear watches. Here’s another thing: We don’t know anyone under 50 who wears a watch. Wristwatches are uncomfortable and redundant. They beg to die out, not to be reinvented. (In fact, wristwatches are dying out and have been for some time now. Wristwatch salesmen, have at it below.) If we want to know the time, we press the Home button on our iPhones or the button on our Nike+ FuelBands. Two clocks, right there. We don’t need an anachronistic third digging into and impinging our wrists all day.

We tried – so hard – to use the TIKTOK+iPod nano conglomeration as a runner’s watch. It’s absolutely great for music and absolutely horrible as a pace watch. The screen is just too small to see when you’re bouncing around and when you lift it to your face and stop naturally swinging your arm to look at it, the pace goes wonky. Sure it tracks the time and distance semi-acurately, but there are plenty of far better solutions for that sort of thing. It’s a wonderful iPod, a needless watch, and an absolutely horrid runner’s watch – which is probably why Apple made the smart move and turned it back into an iPod with a screen that’s big enough to actually use for something more than displaying 20 watch faces at the press of a button. The 6th generation iPod nano was too much of a “Super iPod shuffle” and not enough of an iPod nano. (We were kind of hoping the iPod nano was going to become the new iPod shuffle, but the economics – that damn touchscreen! – probably didn’t work for Apple).

The new 7th generation iPod nano looks to be much better for working out, now with Bluetooth 4.0, and you can still use it to show photos to grandma, but now she can actually see them! With a larger screen and the ability to play TV shows and movies, it’s a great thing for kids and less expensive than even last year’s iPod touch which Apple has kept as the entry-level touch ($149 vs. $199). Plus, it’s really, really, really thin at just 5.4mm!

Hey, who knows? Maybe right now Apple’s hard at work reinventing the wristwatch into something we’d actually want to strap to our wrists: FaceTime, Dick Tracy, etc. If so, bring it on, but it should be its own thing, “iWatch” or whatever, not an iPod nano stuck into a third-party strap sitting on the desk, not on our wrists.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Arline M.” for the heads up.]


  1. Sorry the time is still the most beautifully simple thing you really need nearby, like on your wrist. All else is optional.

    If Apple didn’t realize that they’d be stupid.

    Time is timeless.

    1. Wristwatches are not just worn by the younger generations. Multiple studies, surveys, and watchmakers’ unit sales prove it.

      Apple would be stupid to waste time making a product that people no longer want.

      Like MDN wrote, either reinvent the watch so that people will want to wear wrist watches again, if that’s possible, or forget about it and make the iPod nano an iPod nano.

      1. Exactly. Watches are men’s jewellery and are very “apple” in that they are precise instruments that do one thing very, very well. To ignore the mechanical genius behind watchmaking is to show a lack of appreciation for incredible design. Ive wears a watch:

    2. I wear a watch 23/7 (showers don’t you know.) and its to tell the time. Period. While I love the nano as a fashion watch, I cannot wear it while working as I tear them up. I buy the cheapest $10 watch and throw it away each year when the battery dies. A new battery cost 50% of the price of a watch. go figure.

      Anyway, love the nano watch and you can listen to music too. Wonderful. I may just buy a spare one while they are on refurb. 119$ for 16 gig.

      I also love the generation before it, with the mini video camera.

      Live moves on.

      1. You pay $3000 for a watch battery? That’s just crazy talk.

        Besides all of my watches over $1000 are mechanical Aitomatics — no battery required.

        Even still, I take them off when sleeping.

    3. Agreed. It’s whatever the latest trend is. It’s whatever is fashionable. It’s whatever all the other kids are doing or not doing. It has nothing to do with being old-fashioned. No matter what your age 12 or 90, pulling your phone out of your pocket to check the time is a pain in the ass. Only people who have never worn a watch or people who just think that they are cool don’t understand this simple fact of life. No, wearing a watch is not old-fashioned it’s just simply an easy way to know what time it is. But apparently it’s just not cool now. Texting while you drive is one of the worst things anyone could ever do. It kills countless people every year. But just because people under 50 seem to do it more than people over 50 doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do. Common sense tells you that. Common sense also tells you that glancing at your wrist, as opposed to reaching in your pocket and pulling out your phone, is much easier. Doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. But hey I guess it’s just not fashionable to have common sense sometimes. That happens in life. Every generation thinks it’s the smartest. That will never change. It’s just human nature.

      1. A few years ago, I had a similar argument with some friends. I made an effort to count exactly how many times in a day I want to know what time it is. Then, out of those, I looked at how many times a clock of some sort wasn’t in front of my face (computer screen, cable box, microwave clock, conference room clock on the wall, dining room clock, bedroom clock, etc…). In other words, when it was necessary to have a clock of some sort on my person. The average resulting number was in lower single digits. And this included even weekends!

        Wearing a helmet all day long because there is a risk you may be hit by a bus makes little less sense than wearing a wrist watch because you may need it three times a day (and it may be slightly more convenient than pulling a cellphone out of your pocket / belt holster).

        1. And to add to that story; I have about half a dozen wrist watches. Some of them are quite nice; a few I received as gifts. I’m over 50 years old, and after wearing one for some 35 years (beginning at the age of 7), I stopped once I realised one is in my pocket every minute of my waking time. Losing the wristwatch was rather liberating. I didn’t even realise how much of a constraint of my wrist it was, not to mention the damage it was causing to my dress shirt cuffs (constant friction quickly eroded the hemming).

          1. I’ll stick with my original statement thank you. But I’m sure that you think you’re correct in your own world too. Different strokes for different folks. And I remember you from the Raging Bull boards : DNTK or CIO? DNTK I believe. Have a nice Saturday.

            1. Well, not as silly and nowhere nearly as condescending as comparing wearing a watch to texting while driving. I am neither a teenager, nor someone who cares about trends, cool or not. I’m sure my argument applies to most of those who no longer wear watch. The device simply needlessly irritates skin and constrains wrist movement. For a good century or so, the wrist watch was an indispensable device, as there was no better alternative. Now that everyone has a phone, the 7-second effort it takes people pulling it out of the pocket is not nearly as bad as the discomfort of wearing one (and I had wore one for 35 years, good part of that time even slept with it).

              So, no, this is not about a trend of being cool or uncool; it is simply which is more convenient and less uncomfortable.

              I am sure you don’t find your watch irritating on your wrist, and that’s perfectly fine (as someone said, different stokes for different folks). But I won’t argue that is old-fashioned. I’ll just argue why I think so many people are no longer wearing watches. My statement does NOT disqualify the choice of those who do. It just states the reasons why their numbers are dwindling.

            2. Texting while driving is a fact of life. Wearing a helmet because you may be hit by a bus is as I said before condescending. And I never heard anyone in my life ever say that their watch irritated their skin or constrained their wrist movement. But hey, if you can make a statement support your theory, more power to you.

  2. I don’t completely disagree with MDN’S Take, even though I specifically bought an iPod nano to use as a watch last year. I love it. It’s the best watch ever, but I really don’t need a watch. I can see where most people wouldn’t bother. For me, I love watches and I love gadgets so it’s perfect. It’s the watch I dreamed about when I was a kid. And it is awesome for listening to audiobooks while flying. I’m still hoping that Apple will keep the design around and come up with something even better next year.

  3. I’ve recently returned to wearing a nice watch everyday. There’s something about a good time piece…some may not agree but whatever. I actually like looking at my wrist rather than digging in my pocket — it’s a lot quicker now that I’ve gotten used to it again.

    — Age 34

    1. I wear a watch simply because it’s jewelry. Besides cufflinks (and a wedding band, if he’s married), a watch is really the only jewelry a grown man should wear. Unless he lives in Las Vegas, of course… then bring on the neck chains and pinky rings!

      And it’s true I get asked the time a lot by people who don’t wear watches. I guess they don’t want to haul their phones out of their pockets?

  4. I’m 52 and my wife is 48. She has never worn a watch but I have since I was 17 (graduation present). I would love an iWatch that connects via BT 4.0 to your iPhone and displays calls and texts and lets you play music or podcasts to a BT headset. Sign me up!

  5. Sign me up for this new nano. It looks great to me. I use my current nano every day walking. It has always needed a little bigger screen and it just got it. The touch screen is going to be very helpful too. A nano watch I don’t need. I don’t even think a watch like that is cool at all. Guess Apple didn’t either. I think Apple is going to sell a lot of them.

  6. And to all of thoes that have a beef about the “Apple Watch”.

    Since when was Apple a watch company and specifically sold the nano as such, it was a few bloggers that said “hey strap a band on this and POOF you have a watch”, it was a media player and only that folks, let’s not make this something it’s not.

    I’m sure it burned Jobs and allot of the other designers when the Watch aspect was thrown out, and how it could be used as such.

    If it was so great, why didn’t others pick up on it then, it’s not that important and really still was very bulky as a watch and in reality it would be far from what Apple would present if it where to make a specific attempt at just a Watch offering.

    It’s was a media player first and anything else was just secondary and a fluke that didn’t catch on with only a few.

    Next made up story please.

    1. apple used to make real watches back in the 90’s… I’ve got two. They run backwards and say ‘think different’. The REALLY run backwards.

      I’m thinking about putting one on eBay

  7. I’m still wearing the Seiko self-winding watch my wife bought me for my birthday in 1978. I doubt if even Apples products will last that long. Funny how no one wears a watch but are always asking me what the time is. Yeah, what an antiquated concept. Bet if Apple came out with the iWatch MDN would have a half dozen on each arm and gush about how chic and comfy they are.

    1. You were doing great and making a valid point until your final idiotic sentence. MDN has repeatedly criticized Apple.

      Recently over retail VP Browett where they questioned whether Tim Cook was a good choice to run the company. They criticized Apple for banning fart apps and certain other Apps, for AT&T exclusivity, and those are just ones that pop into my head, there have been others.

      Apple fans like their products because they are well designed, work well, and are easy to use. I do believe Apple could engineer a product to last as long as or far longer than your wrist watch if that was their design goal. They clearly have the talent to do so. Given the orders of magnitude less complexity of your watch vs modern electronic products I think it’s a silly comparison tho.

      1. So, MDN has criticized Apple in the past therefor no one has the right to criticize them for their comments. I simply didn’t care for their snide remarks about those who wear a watch, and their apparent air of superiority because they don’t. Maybe I read more into it than was intended, but I said what I said, and if it doesn’t stand up to your high standards that’s just tough shit.

          1. If you say so, then it must be so.
            Speaking as someone who carries an iPhone, but is required to have it switched off at work for data security reasons, but is still required to know the time for job tracking, a watch is essential, and in any case, telling the time with a watch takes around two seconds to just glance at the face, compared to the time it takes to fish my phone out of my pocket, turn it over, then hit whichever button happens to be handy, then read the time, well I know which is quicker and easier. Especially if you’re riding a bike and need to check the time.
            But hey, you’re obviously smarter than me.

          2. I don’t hate MDN, I just don’t agree with the way they worded their statement. I realize that watches aren’t as popular as they once were. I’ve talked to younger people who have never worn a watch, owned a checkbook, or can even read or write cursive. Many can’t do simple arithmetic in their heads, but they are phenoms at texting. I guess that’s progress in today’s world.

    1. I see many people with their phones in their hand as they walk around. I bet if I checked the people on my college campus, more would have phones in their hands as they walk around than those that didn’t.

  8. I think most folks including MDN would be praising Apple if the new Nano was upgraded to a Dick Tracy model. I’d say maybe a slightly larger screen that’s built more watch band friendly but with 5 very important features.
    1) WiFi
    2) iSight for FaceTime calls on wifi.
    3) 2nd camera maybe on the side with the headphone jack again to be wrist watch friendly so you could take a few pictures. It would work if that 2nd camera would always face away from you to take pictures.
    4) Bluetooth
    5) App store with 1st & 3rd party watch faces & other apps.

    1. Don’t forget Siri, for an omnipresent assistant. Spoken command would probably be easier than touch. Maybe Bluetooth could connect like cars do to your pocket phone to make a call or for FaceTime or for heavy duty processing or data storage. Dick Tracy watch yay!

  9. I’m 45, and can’t imagine leaving the house without a watch. When I want to know how long I have before an appointment, I don’t want to have to dig in my pocket or look around for the nearest clock. Plus, my watch is analog, whereas most of the ubiquitous clocks in our lives are digital. An analog clock makes it a lot easier to see how much time you have before you have to be somewhere. You don’t look at your watch to see what time it is. You look to see how much time you have left.

    My wife, who is 12 years younger than me, never wears a watch. Frankly, I don’t know how the younger generations stand it, never having the time in a consistent, convenient place. The only thing I can figure is that they see watches as hopelessly old-fashioned and so have never given one a try.

    I’ve heard that watches are coming back into style as a fashion accessory. That explains the new, bizarre styles you see that display the time in various forms of code.

    All that being said, the ability of the iPod nano to turn into a watch was always a bonus and not something Apple originally intended. If the new nano provides more and better functionality, then Apple probably made the right decision to change the form.


    1. There are two groups of people: those who don’t carry a device which can tell time (and ask others of the time), and those who do.

      Over the years, the first group has been dwindling rapidly, as it began acquiring mobile phones. Most of those have realised they no longer have to ask others for time. Fundamentally, thought, these are still two separate groups; the first one with very loose sense of time (and generally always late for appointed events), and the other with keen sense of time.

      Today, we are mostly discussing this other one. I belong to the other one. Above, I said my own story about wrist watches.

      This summer, I tried to spend ten days with no cellphone. As I stopped wearing a watch some 12 years ago (sometime after I got my first cellphone), I ended up with no way to tell time. This was somewhat uncomfortable, as I was on vacation, in places with few public clocks. I ended up bringing along my phone, after all, and only using it as a timepiece. Wearing a wrist watch was just completely out of the question. It was too uncomfortable to endure for the entire day, just so that I could tell time the few times I needed to.

  10. I like watches. I love them in fact. It’s a fetish. I love timepieces. Manual, intricate, beautifully engineered timepieces. I cannot afford the watches I’d want to own. There is nothing appealing to me about wearing an iPod on my wrist.

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