The Apple Watch Series 4 appears to have tapped into an emerging cultural theme. And it will accelerate. Series 4 pre-orders are reported to be better than expected. Here’s the significance.
When the Apple Watch first shipped in 2015, it was considered a new breed of smartwatch. Apple’s early ads tended to show a wide range activities posible with the Apple Watch. It was a veritable smorgasbord of features. The marketing approach was to show how many different things the Apple Watch could do in order to whet the customer’s appetite. Third party apps were considered significant. But, in parallel, Apple probably had no firm idea of which features would endure, become favored: signature elements of the Apple Watch.
That is now changing.
Our curent culture is awash with pressures that seem to be accelerating. This may be influencing how people feel about the Apple Watch.
1. Hacking. Not a day goes by without some alarming news about how large chunks of personal information on file, by an internet company, have been compromised.
2. Assaults on our devices. Every new OS update comes complete with a myriad of fixes designed to resist imaginative attempts to outright break into our devices. This is certainly a new way of living compared to, say, 20 years ago.
3. Anti-social media. Nowadays, everyone has a voice. Everyone. Those who are angriest make the most news. It’s hard to recover a sense of social peace.
4. An Angry Planet. Our Earth is trying to make adjustments. Increasing average temperatures have nurtured western wildfires all the while melting polar ice. All that now additional liquid water causes widespread flooding. The planet is departing from its idyllic past in more obvious ways.
5. AI threats. Not a day goes by without some frightening story about how AI, in the hands of tech giants, will someday coerce, dupe, and manipulate us. There are few rosy forecasts.
All this, in aggregate, can weigh on people, even subconsciously.
Apple Watch Protection Game
Rich Mogull, a security guru, thinks iOS is the most secure mobile OS in existence. And yet we must remain very careful. Apps that are carelessly downloaded on a whim and not properly vetted can still compromise our privacy.
The Apple Watch goes one step beyond the iPhone. First, it’s simple to operate and maintain. No tiresome backups. (It backs itself up to our iPhone.) Security snafus are even more rare than with the iPhone. Second, it’s intimate, always in touch with our skin, unlikely to be misplaced. Because of that, it can perpetually tell us things abut ourselves that are helpful and protective. Optical pulse and electrical heart monitoring are upon us. Soon blood glucose and perhaps blood pressure monitoring may arrive.
In addition, Apple points out clearly how, amongst other data, our health data belongs to just us. Apple encrypts it and otherwise protects us. If ever there were a personal electronic device that gives us warm fuzzies about protecting us, in a world rife with threats, the Apple Watch is it. The psychological comfort factor is palpable.
Companies that compete against the Apple Watch think they’re competing in the smartwatch market. They’re wrong. It’s the protection and well-being market.
When cultural pressures ramp up, I think the tendency is to seek solace in products and services that appear to restore a sense of safety equilibrium. Apple is tapping into a new, perhaps only dimly forecasted notion back in 2014 that a device we wear could become a partner and guardian.
Finally, in the context of AI, all we hear about is that AI will destroy our jobs, dignity and very existence. If Apple extends what it has learned from the Apple Watch to personal robots and AI, maybe there’s a New Hope for all of us.