Where Apple went wrong with Apple Watch or something

“Apple’s position in the market now is much more analogous to Microsoft’s, back when Microsoft was trying to navigate the shift from the PC to mobile,” James Allworth writes for Medium. “And it appears that Apple has fallen into exactly the same trap. Rather than start anew — with a beginner’s mind… they’ve tried to take the last paradigm and just jam it into the new one. The old has bled into the new. The result, at least as it stands now: just like Microsoft did, Apple knows what needs to be built — a phone-disrupting device. It’s just that they can’t bring themselves to let go of the past in order to do the job properly.”

“The result is a product that is half-intended to rely the iPhone, and half-intended to replace it. It’s part mimicking the iPhone, and halfway to reimagining it. Well, where I’m from, we have a term for this: one foot on either side of a barbed-wire fence,” Allworth writes. “As a result, Apple are leaving themselves open to exactly the same fate that befell Microsoft back in 2007: Slipping.”

“Right now, Amazon are sitting atop one of the most promising platform-like products that has emerged post-smartphone: the Echo,” Allworth writes. “Rather than try to supplement the phone, Amazon understood the way in which you’d engage with a device at home was fundamentally different from the way that you’d engage with a device like a phone outside of the home. And so they didn’t try to add a whole host of interaction features from the previous paradigm. There was none of Microsoft’s adding keyboards and styluses to their phones. Nor was there any of Apple‘s three modes of interaction for its Watch (through a dial, through voice, through a touch screen; and with a home screen full of apps, too… a kitchen sink design effort if ever there was one).”

“Instead, you interact with the Echo just one way. And just as Apple nailed the touch screen of the iPhone because that was the only was to interact with the device, Amazon have completely nailed the interaction method of the Echo: voice,” Allworth writes. “It really is awesome.”

Tons more – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple Watch is a diamond in the rough. It’s a foothold in the market.

Apple Watch Sport models
Apple Watch Sport models
Because it was released when it was released, in the state it was released, there are 12+ million Apple Watch users with 97% satisfaction rates who are going to buy the next Apple Watch, not something else. And, when the technology gets there, Apple will cannibalize portions of the iPhone experience (think: GPS in the Watch or in the Apple Smartband for the Watch).

But, and this is a big BUT and also the flaw in Allworth’s argument: The smartwatch is not the product that supplants the smartphone. This is due in large part to display size. Apple has it right: The smartwatch offloads some important aspects of the smartphone experience*.

The smartwatch doesn’t replace the smartphone, it augments it.

Apple offers three modes of interaction for Apple Watch because the size of the display dictates all three input modes for various functions and usage situations (running in the park vs. dining at a restaurant, working in a quiet office vs. standing in a stadium full of cheering fans, etcetera; yes, the wrist goes everywhere).

When “Product X” arises (the product that supplants the smartphone) then Apple – if they’re operating correctly; meaning: if the execs in charge paid attention at Apple University – will have been the company that developed it and they will cannibalize the iPhone with “Product X” just as they cannibalized iPod with iPhone (and are cannibalizing Mac with iPad, however glacially).

So, Allworth has this important bit wrong: The Apple Watch wasn’t “half-intended to rely the iPhone, and half-intended to replace it.” The Apple Watch was intended to augment the iPhone and that’s exactly what it does. Due its tiny screen, it simply can’t replace the iPhone in toto (it can only replace a subset of the iPhone functions where the display size is not the limiting factor). Can it be improved? Of course. And Apple will certainly do so.

Who, besides Allworth, says there needs to be “a phone-disrupting device?” What’s wrong with the iPhone that it needs to be disrupted? Nothing.

Things that need to be disrupted have glaring flaws: Mechanical portable music payers with cassette tapes that hold an hour of music and have to be fast-forwarded and rewound to hear songs, a music business that charges $18 for plastic discs containing one good song, or automobiles that pollute the air their drivers need to breathe (hint, hint).

The iPhone remains a technological marvel – it’s a freakin’ Mac in your pocket!!! It was and is amazing and it will remain so for the foreseeable future. iPhone does not cry out to be disrupted.

And, yes, Amazon Echo is a great product – although it does come with privacy concerns as you might imagine with a microphone-equipped device that’s “always listening” in your home.

*We haven’t checked the time, the weather, sports scores, used the calculator, or set an alarm or timer with our iPhones since the day we first strapped Apple Watches to our wrists. We have, in large part, stopped using our iPhones for quick messaging and for turn-by-turn directions. It’s all done via Apple Watch in much quicker fashion.


  1. I don’t share the fetish for a product to replace smartphones. I have an Apple Watch and I think it’s a great way to augment the iPhone, but I have no interest in using it independently of my iPhone. I like taking photos with a great camera, I like reading books on an awesome screen, etc. Pocket computers like the iPhone are pretty damn amazing, I think the obsession with the “new” is just a misplaced search for meaning in one’s life.

    1. I’m wondering if the author also complains about his home PC having to rely a connection to the Internet to get things done, instead of everything being stored on his computer’s hard drive.

  2. The Echo is interesting… mostly for geeks. I doubt they’ve sold anywhere near as many as Apple has sold Apple Watches, and I’m sure they aren’t nearly as profitable.

    The Apple Watch positions Apple to dominate wrist computers, which could be the next important market for mobile. A device that sits in your home is fine for geeks, but isn’t really going to replace smart phones or move the dial much, since mobile is really where it is at when people these days move around so much from home/office/coffee shop, etc and expect to always be connected.

    I love my Apple Watch, but why would anyone assume it isn’t going to get TONS better in each new version. What happens when the battery lasts for a week? Or it slims down so it’s so light you barely notice it. Or… when it has separate GPS and a cell connection it can operate as a smartphone. And it does voice command. That’s makes it an Echo you can take with you. And it won’t be long.

    Everyone else, as usual, will have to play catch up.

    1. “The Apple Watch positions Apple to dominate wrist computers…”

      OK, but isn’t this article essentially saying that the problem with the Apple watch is that it *isn’t* a wrist computer? It’s just an iPhone add-on.

  3. “And so they didn’t try to add a whole host of interaction features”

    Despite what people think the Echo is designed for, it has one goal, the reason it exists.
    To sell more Amazon stuff on impulse. The rest is just fluff.

    1. I could easily argue that many of Apple’s new features in iOS and Mac OS have the singular goal of selling you Apple’s services. And those “features” are often to the detriment to the overall quality and usability of the software. iTunes is a case and point.

  4. The smartphone will be disrupted by augmented reality. When you can have whatever info you need superimposed on the real world why would you need or want to pull a piece of glass out of your pocket to do anything? Assuming of course that the way AR is delivered is not as awkward as Google Glass.

  5. As I’ve said before, add GPS to the watch without constant need for a phone in a pocket and every toddler to middle schooler will be wearing one so their parents always can track them. Make an app similar to Find My iPhone that is Find My Watch, maybe even show vital signs, etc. Parents would have added peace of mind and perhaps incidents of lost kids, (or worse) would be reduced.

    1. Always-on locational tracking = Big Brother.

      Not only does every social media company track your every move and word already — and the user agreement gives them ownership of everything you store on their servers — but there are also nefarious technologies that scan and merge these data so that stalkers and criminals can target people. The “Girls Around Me” app is just the tip of the iceberg.

      This is not a future any parent should want for their children, and Apple isn’t doing much of anything to ensure users are safe from the scum of the internet.

      Today if it is connected to the internet and it’s “free”, then you are being tracked. Even if it came from Apple.

  6. This guy falls into the age old trap of taking something that proved to be true (though few foresaw it) and apply it to a new scenario on the basis this will go the same way. Of course if that were that easy then 1) the original would have been foreseen and 2) you wouldn’t need 1 to forecast 2. Its simply lazy journalism.

    The watch needs an iPhone for the simple matter that at this stage of the technology there is no way to have achieved what they wanted to achieve without having it do so. equally if they left until the technology could it would have missed some 2 years or so of it being in the market. Echo has none of these problems and while it is absolutely a product that Apple should have released, indeed it was forecast to do so some 2 years before that product launched through expected Homekit and Apple TV developments it has little to do with a product like the Watch which has a whole different purpose and whole different parameters to deal with. Indeed if it copied the Echo example it would probably simply be a voice activated time piece which would have gone down like a lead balloon. It is laughable that the very people who write about and predict technology subjects are so often those least open minded and equipped to do so successfully.

  7. The problem with all of the people that are complaining that Apple (or anyone else in tech) are not innovating fast enough or disrupting things is that, obviously, innovation does not happen on a schedule. Either the world isn’t ready for the product or the underlying technology that is needed for a successful product concept doesn’t yet exist.

    Of course Apple and every other tech company would like to revolutionize the world every day if they could, but they can’t. One can also argue that the world doesn’t necessarily wan’t a revolution too often. For technology, infrastructure needs to be built (i.e. chip FABs, cellular networks, etc) and amortized costs need to be recovered and paid for.

    For consumers, most people also like to amortize their costs and not throw away their devices every year either. They also get used to doing things in a certain way, and absolutely don’t like things changing too often. For this reason you will not see a radical redesign of an OS too often. People actually get pissed when they have to get used to learning new ways to do things.

    This is why the writer’s criticism of the Apple watch interface raises a valid point: the inconsistencies in the user interface probably is one reason it has not been a runaway success. People actually have to put in more effort than they did to learn to interact with a touch screen iPhone, which was very intuitive. But to say that Apple is a failure in some way because they have not disrupted the word on some kind of schedule the writer feels they should be following is just stupid.

  8. The Apple Watch is intended to replace the Mac. I know this to be true because Apple has put so few resources into upgrading Macs lately that they must be on their way out of the lineup.

    For a while I thought the Watch was to replace the iPod, but then I realized the Apple had already killed the iPod, they just haven’t had the funeral.

  9. Amazon Echo sells soap and we don’t use the environmentally harmful products they schlep, so it’s basically DOA useless, unless we are OK with Amazon constantly listening in on our confidential office conversations for which we’ve signed NDA’s, which we’re not.

  10. Compare and contrast:

    Watch sales.
    Amazon Echo sales.

    No comparison. Good for Amazon coming up with the Echo. But to use it as a tool for bashing Apple is absurd. If the Echo is ever a massive success, like the Watch is, we’ll talk.

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