SMU professor thinks Apple Watch has too much to overcome

“The first wristwatches were a flop,” Robert McMillan writes for Wired. “Called bracelet watches, they were seen as a rather unseemly replacement for the pocketwatch, a more discreet means of keeping track of the time. Though mass-produced versions first emerged in the 1880s, it wasn’t until 1927 that U.S.-made wristwatches finally outstripped sales of their entrenched competitor.”

“With the Apple Watch, Tim Cook and company are now hoping to push us through a similar social revolution. And because that’s such an enormous task, it too may be a flop — at least initially. Alexis McCrossen, a Southern Methodist University professor and author of a book on the history of clocks and watches, believes that, much like the original wristwatch, it has too much to overcome,” McMillan reports. “‘They’re making two bets,’ she says of Apple. One bet is that people want bigger screens and more visible access to information, she explains, and that’s why the iPhone 6 is bigger. But then the company has hedged that bet with Apple Watch, in case people are more interested in having information on them at all times. ‘But the thing is,’ she says, ‘your iPhone can be on you all the time too.'”

“The younger generation doesn’t wear watches,” McMillan reports. “That certainly the case with McCrosson’s students. ‘Apple Watch will redefine what people expect from a watch,’ Cook said. But so many of us don’t expect anything from our watch. Instead, we expect something from a device that slides into our pocket.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

Apple Pay on iPhone 6
Apple Pay on iPhone 6
Astute readers of the full article will immediately note one very important omission: Apple Pay.

Nowhere in the article was Apple Watch’s ability to let users interact quickly and conveniently with the world around them, making seamless transactions using Apple Pay. Why was this fact omitted? Because if it were included, the entire premise for the article evaporates.

Apple Pay capability will sell more Apple Watches than any other feature. After the initial launch weekend rush, once average people see the early adopters seamlessly paying with their Apple Watch, that’s when the wildfire sales will begin to rage.

Dear Professor McCrossen, before you comment on something, it pays to first take the time to fully understand it. At the very least, understand the major features.

Email Robert McMillan at and ask him if, or why, he “forgot” to mention Apple Watch’s ability to seamlessly conduct Apple Pay transactions.

This “report” is akin to critiquing the passenger jet while neglecting to mention that it can fly.

Any “report” or article that discusses Apple Watch and conveniently omits major features should be considered nothing more than hit-whoring and/or FUD.

Related articles:
What the Apple Watch says about Apple – September 15, 2014
Tim Cook of Apple Watch battery life: ‘You’ll want to charge them every night’ – September 12, 2014
Old school watch makers don’t get Apple Watch – September 12, 2014
Apple Watch, the world’s first real smartwatch, will be a massive hit – September 9, 2014
Apple iWatch designer Jony Ive: Switzerland is in deep shit – September 4, 2014

Wells Fargo brings revolutionary Apple Pay to customers and merchants – September 15, 2014
Apple gets 15 cents of every $100 Apple Pay purchase – September 12, 2014
Capital One partners with Apple on Apple Pay – September 12, 2014
Apple Bank is only a matter of time – September 12, 2014
The hidden brilliance behind the timing of Apple’s adoption of NFC – September 12, 2014
MasterCard SVP: Apple Pay trumps traditional credit and debit cards in security – September 11, 2014
Authorize.Net announces support for Apple Pay – September 11, 2014
Apple Pay’s myriad advantages over the $300 million Google Wallet flop – September 11, 2014
Apple Pay may boost sales of larger iPhones, hurt Android phone sales – September 11, 2014
Why Apple Pay will hurt PayPal – September 10, 2014
Apple Pay will demolish the barrier between online and offline shopping – September 10, 2014
Disney CFO: Apple Pay is a huge advantage – September 10, 2014
Pacific Crest: Visa, MasterCard, American Express boosted by Apple Pay – September 10, 2014
Apple to rake in fees from banks with Apple Pay mobile payments platform – September 10, 2014
Visa teams with Apple on Apple Pay mobile payments platform – September 10, 2014
MasterCard partners with Apple to integrate revolutionary Apple Pay – September 10, 2014
TSYS supports Apple Pay – September 10, 2014
Apple announces Apple Pay mobile payments – September 9, 2014


        1. MDN does not need politician bashing.

          Neither Democrat nor Republican.

          One who wants to do it, should have the guts to enter the political arena to become a President, Senator or a Congressman as the case may be.

    1. That’s Wosamatta U!

      Just another doomsayer who completely misunderstands nor comprehends where the watch is going. Why does every moron out there expect a full mature device from day one with thousands of applications with a finished ecosystem instantly? I thought smart professors knew technology is a every moving and improving target? Not very smart, but absent-minded maybe.

      1. Good point. The Apple Watch, in itself, is merely evolutionary; not revolutionary. What will make it succeed is one or more killer apps which have yet to be identified. Nobody knows what they are right now (not even the developers) but they will emerge. Apple has the support system (e.g. developer tools, distribution, etc.) to make it succeed.

    1. Um, yeah. I agree. Just because people will see Watch wearers checking out effortlessly doesn’t mean they will drop everything and run to the Apple Store in order to fork over $400 for a smart watch. And this is coming from someone who will most likely be getting a Watch at some point. MDN’s delusional hubris can be amusing, though.

      1. Delusional or not, I will be getting an Apple watch, and this is certainly one of the reasons. Sure it’s $400, but I have had CC’s stolen with fraudulent charges way over that even in the past year.

        1. I vote delusional. You were held responsible for fraudulent charges by a credit card? That’s exceedingly rare.

          And Apple Pay is a feature of iPhone 6 and iOS8, *not* Apple Watch. The watch acts as a remote fob to the phone only.

          Also, has anyone figured out yet how Apple Pay is any *easier* than existing tap-to-pay systems? I recognize the potential for more security through the fingerprint system, though it’s not clear how they maintain that with the watch as fob.

    2. Yes, it can; however, for exactly the same reason that wristwatches first really caught on, and that wasn’t in 1927. It was during the First World War, where troops, in particular officers, were bundled up in layers of clothing to protect against the cold and wet, but still needed to know the time for making advances against the enemy.
      A fob-watch was a liability, almost impossible to get to in a hurry, so wristwatches became common because it’s so much easier to push a cuff back and look at a watch on a strap on the wrist.
      Which is why I fail to understand this obsession with ditching the easily used wristwatch in favour of using a devise that has to be retrieved from a pocket, possibly under layers of clothes, perhaps with gloves, making sure it’s the right way around, then waking it up to read the time; a process that takes maybe thirty times longer!
      Once people start using phones to pay for goods and services, and find that trying to juggle a phone, coffee, magazine, bag, and at the same time go through a transport pay barrier, it’ll become apparent that having something on your wrist that tells time, allows things to be paid for, and controls other devices, (Remote), and a multitude of other things will be far more convenient than dragging a valuable, vulnerable computer out of your pocket umpteen times a day.
      Something known for a century.

    1. Pricing of different versions will be interesting. Fashion economics would suggest that the gold version will be priced very high to provide real watch status value.

      Apple seems to be very aware that the purpose of having something on a wrist goes far beyond normal computing device issues.

  1. When I see someone parallel parking with an  Watch, or frying eggs or brushing their teeth or fishing or playing Bocce or trimming a Christmas tree or sticking a Q-tip in their ear while wearing an  Watch, I’ll have to go get one.

  2. Do people really still buy things in shops? I keep £20 on me for absolute emergencies, my debit card for everything else. Even then the vast majority of my spending is done online. iPhone or iWatch I just don’t buy things multiple times a day.

    1. Okay smart pants, say you want a bag of ice. Where you going to order that online? How about rolls of toilet paper? Do you order those online too? I buy plenty online myself, but not everything lends itself to online purchases.

      1. He’s British, he doesn’t buy ice. You need to get out more. Toilet rolls? Costco or online every time. You buy them singly do you?

        No, why he is clueless is: coffee, newspapers, subway (The Underground), gas, coffee, lunch, soda. Sure he could use a debit card instead (mostly, outside the third world payment system that is modern America) but it is not as slick. Slick wins.

  3. I think Apple Pay is not fully understood by the author.

    But I think more than that the health/fitness aspect is missing from the analysis. I think that will be the cornerstone of the thing (it isn’t better at games or video — so what is it better at?) Health, clearly.

    Personally, I’ve had times in my life when I have and have not worn watches. Why? I’m not entirely sure. The last one my wife bought me for Christmas a couple of years back simply wasn’t comfortable to wear and it sits in my office unworn as a result. I strap it on for weddings and funerals, that’s about it. It’s nothing more than a fashion accessory.

    Apple does indeed have a lot to “overcome.”

    It has to be fashionable. Comfortable. Simple to use. Accurate with the information it provides and collects. If anyone can do it, it is Apple.

    If the only people buying it our tech geeks, it will indeed fail, though. But when famous athletes, celebrities and influential business folks “get it” the rest of the world will follow.

    For all its brilliant design, it has to be desirable.

  4. Because the younger generation doesn’t wear watched yet, Apple should have designed a watch that is more streamlined and less bulky. Instead, version 1 targets watch wearers first. It’s a big gamble that will be fixed by version 2and 3. I won’t buy a gold one until then. I may buy the lowest end. Samsungs Gear S is more modern in first appearance.

    1. I hear that watches are starting to catch on again with the younger set, primarily as a fashion accessory. And while it’s true that the time is everywhere these days, there’s just something nice about having it on your wrist in the form you prefer.


  5. I’m not running around meeting with different clients, going to networking events, having a coffee with a friend between meetings and taking my kids to many different things as I did when I was younger. If I were on the go like that, I’d LOVE to have an Apple Watch on my wrist. Wow! SO easy. SO useful.

  6. His opinions are not bad given his situation. Apple Watch is a situational device. I’ve heard some Mac pundits voice similar opinions. If you sit at home or in an office there is not much utility to a wearable device. If you are out moving about, traveling, in crowded and noisy spaces, in meetings, speaking in front of groups and such then the Apple Watch could be very useful. After Apple Watch is released the uses will become more apparent.

  7. I had the feeling that it shouldn’t be a watch. It some ways, it shouldn’t have a display. It should be elegant, measure bio reading, pay for stuff, but an extension of your phone. An amulet, or charm. You could have it as a ring, or a bracelet, etc.

    1. I thought other kinds of attachments (necklace, etc.) would be cool to, but the constraints of being able to quickly see and control the phone physically, and it needing reliable skin contact for the bio sensors, make the wrist position difficult to compete with.

  8. 1. Professor US Social and Cultural History
    2. The rate of cultural change is faster than it was 125 years ago. By and large, men aren’t wearing waistcoats any more.
    3. It’s not a Watch. It’s an extension of your pocket computer that is enabled for cellular calling. It also happens to tell time.

  9. “The younger generation doesn’t wear watches,” McMillan reports.

    Yes, well they didn’t wear them before they were invented, either.

    I’m sure someone said “Consumers don’t use portable computers” before the first laptop was released.

  10. Not just Apple Pay. How about iBeacon? Betcha that was not just developed for the iPhone…

    As for being able to use your phone for what the watch does, how often have you been irritated by having to dig your phone out of your pocket? Maybe you’re walking down the street on a rainy day and you get texts every minute or so. Worse, on a cold day when your phone is in your jacket and you’re wearing gloves? There is a lot to be said for that final few inches of accessibility…

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