Ann Arbor Area Business Monthly
Small Business and the Internet

Watchmen

May 2015

By Mike Gould

“… do you love me? Now that I can dance, Watch me now…
  Do You Love Me? - The Contours, 1962, Written by Barry Gordy, Jr.

So who watches the watchmen? Everybody, apparently. By “watch”, I mean the new Apple Watch (AW), of course, and by “everybody”, I mean, uh, the entire population of the planet, judging by the current media hoo-ha over the recent release of this wrist-borne beauty. Nothing new here; Apple is the company that puts the “friend” in “frenzy”, so here we go again with a new game-changing, lifestyle gotta-have, high-tech objet de jour.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Somebody’s gotta keep the economy rolling along and provide fodder for us technoWriters. And, hey, you need a watch anyway, so it might as well be something that is a focus of attention among the technorati and has that little Apple logo on it. I’m writing this a week before the official release of the AW, and already I’m reading that the entire first run of them has sold out, and that 1.4 bazillion people are camped out in front of Apple Stores, awaiting their rendezvous with destiny. Finally, all these people will be able to find out what time it is – the thanks of a grateful nation go out to Apple…

Now me, I’m not really the right guy to cover this, as I haven’t worn a watch in years, or any jewelry at all, save my wedding ring. And I only wear that to protect myself from the hordes of groupies that swarm whenever they hear that there is a pundit for BizMo in the house. (That snort you hear in the background is my wife Salli, doing a final edit on this before I send it to Editor Jan, who will be providing her own snorts shortly…)

The Book of Hours
Long story short, I won’t be rushing out to buy one of these any time soon. Being the local Luddite that I am, I’m still muddlin’ through with an iPhone 5, so I usually am not a first-responder to new-dads. (Although I will own up to being the first in the neighborhood with the cylindrical MacPro – my article, “Mac for Pros”, online below. And I bought the first iPad on opening day, five years ago. But aside from that, hardly ever…)

Or so I currently believe. What will tip the scales of horology for me will be a killer app; a use for the Watch that is so compelling that I will have to race off to my favorite Apple vendor and plunk down the plastic (or tap the Apple Pay thingie with the phone I don’t own yet) and buy the silly thing just so I can go on living here in the technical vastness of the future.

And I may have just spilled the beans all over the counter with the above: Apple Pay. Bean counters everywhere are quivering in anticipation for the complete integration of watches/phones/mystic amulets into the stream of commerce, as this will give them a better view of who is buying what for how much and when. Yes, Apple Pay may just be the final straw that breaks this old camel’s back in the long haul to the future, to further mangle a mixed metaphor. (See my previous article, “Cash or Credit?” at the URL below.)

What Do You Do With This?
The AW continues with the Cupertino tradition of extended hardware. The iPad is sort of an extended connection to your laptop, desktop, or the Internet itself. You can run it independently, but it works best when you periodically synch it to your computer to transfer contact info, downloaded tunage, email, etc.

The iPhone is an extension of, well, the telephone (remember those?). It dials, it smiles, it handles your email, and it takes your selfies, yadda, yadda, and yadda. And the AW can initially be thought of as an extension of your phone. It alerts you to texts, emails and phone calls, reminds you of meetings on your calendar, and, oh yeah, tells you what time it is.

And it frees you from the agonizing effort of having to lean…over…and…reach…into…your…pocket or purse to pull out your phone to see who just sent you their latest funny kitteh pix.

I’m not going to go much into the features of all this; you will have by now sat through the TV ads, admired the print ads, and endured the chatter of your nerdier friends describing how cool it all is. The initial reports focused on fitness; how this can work as a pedometer/heart rate monitor/rep counter or whatever. Then all the other features were trotted out, most of which I’m not personally interested in (that Luddite thing again). But Apple Pay? That could indeed be desirable, especially if it becomes the dominant way to buy things. I do like to buy things.

Apple describes the AW-Apple Pay connection thusly:

Double-click to pay and go. To pay with Apple Watch, just double‑click the side button and hold the face of your Apple Watch near the contactless reader. A gentle pulse and tone confirm that your payment information was sent.

And It Looks Pretty Cool
This is another Sir Jonathan Ive design. Ive is the head designer at Apple, and he has a long history of playing nice with technology as it relates to the user experience. There is a great article in the New Yorker (URL below) where he talks about how this all came about.

As for me, I’m gonna watch from the sidelines; check back with me in a year and we’ll see if I’ve Apple Paid for this.

Cash or Credit:
http://mondodyne.com/b2b/smbiznet.200.shtml

Mac for Pros:
http://mondodyne.com/b2b/smbiznet.196.shtml

Jonathan Ive in the New Yorker:
http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/02/23/shape-things-come

Mike Gould is still saving up for an iPhone 6, was a mouse wrangler for the U of M for 20 years, runs the MondoDyne Web Works/Macintosh Training/Digital Photography mega-mall, is a laser artist, performs with the Illuminatus 3.0 Laser Lightshow, and welcomes comments addressed to mgould@mondodyne.com.

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