Apple Watch: I’ve changed my mind. Just not about the Watch.


Dick Tracy: Smart Watch Pioneer

Seven months ago, I wrote a post about the Apple Watch and how I was yet to be convinced of the need. Concerned that in the wake of the clamour for wearable tech, I’d suddenly become a Luddite, I decided to immerse myself rather than take the easy, skeptical route.

So in October 2014, I became one of the first owners of a LG G Watch R, which at the time was certainly the smart watch of choice.

I duly installed Android Wear on my HTC One and ensured I did all I could to exercise every feature of my new watch. On several occasions I even publicly addressed my wrist to ask for directions, drawing inevitable what-a-muppett looks from those around me.

But try as I might, I just couldn’t realise the value. Android already bombards users with notifications so if anything, having them duplicated on my wrist was actually an irritation. When I run, I’m not interested in analyzing the minutiae of pace and heartbeat. The fact I’m still alive after a 10k is sufficient for me. And if someone calls me, my phone tells me. If I’m too far away from my phone, the watch won’t ‘see’ it anyway. Changing watch faces is fun but that hardly constitutes the case for as opposed to the case against.

I tried, I really did. But its probably testament to the level of interest in wearable tech that a month later, someone bought the watch on eBay for more than I paid for it.

Days away from the launch of the Apple Watch, have I changed my mind? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that I’ve changed from an Android phone to an iPhone (those notifications and the lack of decent OS-level management of them eventually drove me to distraction) and no, in that I’ve still yet to be convinced about the Apple Watch.

Maybe sending someone my heartbeat will change my mind. Or maybe just running 10k and remaining alive will be enough.


Why I’ve no time for the Apple Watch. Yet.

Spare a thought for your Apple store assistant. A few years ago if someone wanted an iPhone phone, they offered them an iPhone. If someone wanted an iPad, they offered them an iPad. Even if someone wanted a computer the choice pretty much boiled down to desktop or laptop.

Now it’s all different. The emergence of Apple’s latest iPad and iPhone derivatives confirms, if confirmation were needed, that the simple, clear, clutter-free Jobs period is well and truly over.

The Apple store assistant now has to compare and contrast products with very little between them.

The Apple site even employs a comparison mechanism to help decipher the differences between available iPads and iPhones.

Steve jobs must be looking down from his iCloud in sad bewilderment.

WWJD? (What Would Jobs Do?)

Steve jobs must be looking down from his iCloud in sad bewilderment.

For a company that became so incredibly successful through it’s unequaled marketing, it seems odd they would choose to create so many derivatives and run the risk of diluting the iPhone and iPad brands that became instantly synonymous with the markets they themselves created.

This is the company that founded itself by introducing amazing products no one knew they wanted. Even the products that failed (Newton, Cube,) paved the way for products that eventually defined entire verticals.

I’ve no doubt the iPad and iPhone derivatives will sell  but I do wonder at the costs associated with manufacturing and supporting such an extensive product line. The logistics alone must be mind-boggling.

Which brings me on to the Apple Watch. It’s here that I really struggle. Effectively a tiny strap-on tablet device, the Apple Watch seems to bring little to the party other than some health-related apps and a way to send doodles to other Apple Watch users. In other words, not much more than a typical phone provides.

What do I gain by replacing my relatively individual automatic watch (which never needs charging) with a generic Apple Watch? Is this a product no-one knew they needed? Has Apple taken an existing concept and redefined, reimagined, reinvented, redesigned it to become so much better? In years to come will we wonder how we ever managed without it? I’m not so sure.

For now, I’ll bide my time. Using my old Seiko. After all, if the array of iPhones and iPads is anything to go by, they’ll soon be myriad Apple Watches to choose from. And one of them is bound to deliver something truly distinguishing, right?

This'll do

This’ll do

Steve Jobs. A return to mediocrity?

Steve Jobs defied covention and abhorred mediocrity. His creations set the benchmark for design. Competitors, such as they exist, have for the most part been ‘also-rans.’ Will Jobs’ death mark a return to mediocrity? I don’t think so. Why? Becuase as Obama said, “Steve Jobs changed the way each of us sees the World.” If mediocrity creeps in, we’ll see that as well.

Apples made great carrots in 1982. And they still do in 2011

Not another iPad Article.

Actually it is. Another iPad article, I mean. You see, I’m conscious that in the ‘meeja’ world, iPad fatigue seems to be setting in. The frenzied pre-launch excitement has been replaced by an almost palpable resignation. Where once there was enthusiasm, there now seems plain old inevitability. But look closer and it seems the feeling of, well, if not reluctance then certainly skepticism, emanates most noticeably from a particular sector: consumer publishing.

Of all media sectors, consumer publishing has borne the brunt of iPad R&D and launch costs and has thus far at least, been unable to enjoy financial benefit. This is due in no small part to the challenges in creating a sufficiently compelling app to attract repeat purchase whilst at the same time ensuring the production process is viable enough to sustain regular production.

Whilst apps clearly sell, the vast majority are those that perform a specific, discrete function. In other words, they are purchased only once. A magazine app (as opposed to a magazine-branded app) is published repeatedly and therefore assumes repeat purchase. In many ways therefore, a magazine app must be extraordinarily impressive to stand out and attract repeat, regular purchase in sustainable volumes.

Earlier this year, I wrote about the 3 things the iPad brings to publishing: confusion, opportunity and a defining moment. At the time, the confusion was due largely to the lack of clarity in appropriate business models. This has since been diminished (by default) by Apple’s explanation of their subscription policy, which, contrary to many hysterical reports, is actually pretty clear (see below for a summary).

Sadly, Apple’s clarity apparently confounds consumer publishing’s woes, prompting a deluge of incredulous comment and even triggering disapproving noises from the normally conservative Forrester. Publishers should be under no illusions; the policy is unlikely to change. With the music industry, Apple has set a precedent for their 70/30 revenue split (the so-called ‘dirty percent’). And as a consumer, their data policy is difficult to argue against.

So what does this mean for content agencies? It means the opportunity is all the more prevalent. Brands know there is money to be made and they know Apple is the gateway. With no realistic competition anywhere on the horizon, the iPad is crying out for compelling content. The confusion has lessened and the opportunity has increased.


Motorola want you to get excited? Can you feel it?

The Motorola Xoom. Excited? Motorola certainly want you to be. 

Conceding to Apple’s formidable marketing machine, it seems poignant (and perhaps a little sad) Motorola feel the need to include a ‘Get Excited’ button on their website.

Click the image. Take a look.

Despite this, there remains relatively few iPad Apps originating from content agencies. And I’m not necessarily talking about magazine Apps. As a fan of great content, and therefore a fan of content agencies, this worries me.

“The vast majority of the apps available were created for the iPhone and do not fully exploit the capabilities of the iPad. Users report higher satisfaction with iPad-dedicated applications, however, and want more of them.”

– McKinsey ‘Understanding the iPad’ report, February 2011

Just a week ago Sky announced a radical switch from printed magazines to digital solutions; Apple launched the iPad 2 (barely a year after iPad 1); and McKinsey stated Tablet devices “are set to become the ‘control point’ for consumers’ media use..”

As last years APA Content Summit promo said,”If you’re not engaging, right now, you’re disengaging, and your customers will become someone else’s..”

Apple’s Subs policy in summary

  1. App Store Apps may only use In App Purchase (IAP) technology from within the App.
  2. App Store Apps must not direct users to commerce or transactions outside the IAP system.
  3. App Store Apps must price IAP and subscription content the same as, or lower than, equivalent content offered outside the App.

Apple’s Data policy

Customers purchasing a subscription through the App Store will be given the option of providing the publisher with their name, email address, and zip code. The use of such information will be governed by the publisher’s privacy policy rather than Apple’s. Publishers may seek additional information from App Store customers provided those customers are given a clear choice, and are informed that any additional information will be handled under the publisher’s privacy policy rather than Apple’s.

Association of Publishing Agencies Article originally written for  the APA