The Apple Watch’s Raison D’être

After having read a seemingly infinite number of Apple Watch reviews, I believe I may have discovered something that many, if not most, of the reviewers didn’t: The Apple Watch’s Raison D’être ((rai·son d’ê·treˌrāzôn ˈdetrə/noun: the most important reason or purpose for someone or something’s existence.)). And, I discovered it, not in the Apple Watch reviews, but in an article that preceded the reviews by over a week.

Two weeks ago, David Pierce wrote an article entitled: “iPhone Killer: The Secret History Of The Apple Watch” for Wired. ((The author of the article, David Pierce, thought he had discovered the Apple Watch’s Raison D’être too, but he was far off the mark: “(T)he Apple team landed upon the Watch’s raison d’être. It came down to this: Your phone is ruining your life.”)) In the article, Pierce quoted Kevin Lynch, Vice President of technology for Apple as saying:

“We’re so connected, kind of ever-presently, with technology now,” Lynch says. “People are carrying their phones with them and looking at the screen so much.”

“People want that level of engagement,” Lynch says. “But how do we provide it in a way that’s a little more human, a little more in the moment when you’re with somebody?”

In other words:

— The Apple Watch needs to help provide us with the same level of engagement that we already enjoy;

— But do it in a way/manner that is more natural, more intuitive, more human;

— Paying special heed to how we can we remain present with others while still interacting with, and reacting to, our technology.

These three overlapping goals are, in my opinion, the key to understanding the Apple Watch.


You might have noticed that I didn’t mention Fitness when discussing the Apple Watch’s Raison D’être. When it comes to the Fitness aspects of the Apple Watch, I like John Gruber’s analogy ((To me, Apple Watch’s health and fitness tracking features might be like what the iPhone’s camera is to someone with no interest in photography. I’m glad it’s there, and I’ll surely wind up using it in some ways, but it’s not a reason why I would buy it in the first place. ~ John Gruber)). Fitness is to the Watch as the camera is to the phone. It’s there whether you use it or not, so you might as well use it.

[pullquote] Fitness features will not be the key to the Apple Watch’s success, but the Apple Watch’s success will be the key to using the fitness features[/pullquote]

Smartphones have taught us that the best camera is the camera you have with you. Similarly, the best fitness device is the one you wear all the time. Fitness features will not be the key to the Apple Watch’s success, but the Apple Watch’s success will be the key to using the fitness features.


Competitive smartwatch products may be useful in their own right, but they are not asking — nor are they answering — the same questions that the creators of the Apple Watch have posed. Accordingly, I don’t think existing smartwatches are competing with the Apple Watch at all. At least not yet.

And if others decide to go head-to-head with the Apple Watch, they’re going to find it difficult to emulate the one-two punch of the Force Touch/Taptic Engine that distinguishes the Apple Watch and makes it so compelling.

Defining Success

13fdc7ef298fc646f30c6216778665cf.0I will deem the Apple Watch a success if it, like the iPhone and iPad before it:

1) Initially outsells all other pre-existing devices in its category;

2) Becomes the de facto premium smartwatch of choice;

3) Creates a firm foundation for growth ((The iPhone was introduced in 2007, and across its first 12 months of availability, Apple sold about 5.3 million iPhones. By the third quarter of 2009, the company sold 5.2 million iPhones in a single quarter. In the first quarter of 2012, it sold 37 million. In the first quarter of 2015, it sold 74.5 million. The original iPhone… was also the best smartphone in the world, and over time the number of people who wanted to buy the best smartphone in the world kept growing as the underlying technology improved. ~ Vox)); and

4) Significantly and meaningfully strengthens the overall Apple Ecosystem.

I think the Apple Watch is already a shoo-in to accomplish all four of those objectives.

Mac installed base ~85m. iPad installed base, ~170m (my estimates). Apple Watch likely to be more iPad than Mac. Maybe larger. ~ Ben Bajarin on Twitter


If you were predicting Apple would fail for the last decade, it’s worth working out why you were wrong before continuing such predictions. ~ Benedict Evans on Twitter

The Verge’s Nilay Patel says that while the Apple Watch is easily the best smartwatch you can own today, but he remains a skeptic:

(D)o you want another tiny computer in your life that you have to worry about and charge every day? That’s the real question of the Apple Watch. Does it offer so much to you that you’re willing to deal with the hassles and idiosyncrasies of a new platform that is clearly still finding a true purpose?


I think that’s wrong. ((I’m not debating the issue. I’m just trying to explain why I am right. ~ Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator))) I think the creators of the Apple Watch know its purpose and the Apple Watch is designed to serve that purpose. I think it’s the reviewers, not the Apple Watch, that are struggling to discover its true purpose.

Things don’t have to change the world to be important. ~ Steve Jobs

The question isn’t whether the Apple Watch has a reason for being. It does. ((There’s two kinds of people in this world: those who think their opinion is objective truth, and… there’s one kinds of people in this world. ~ Joss Whedon on Twitter)) The question is whether Apple has executed on that vision and created a wearable computing device that fulfills that vision.

Our DNA is as a consumer company, for that individual customer who’s voting thumbs up or thumbs down. That’s who we think about. And we think that our job is to take responsibility for the complete user experience. And if it’s not up to par, it’s our fault, plain and simply. ~ Steve Jobs

Fortunately for Apple, it’s the votes of the customers, not the reviewers, that matters.

Have spent embarrassing amount of last two days reading gadget reviews. Takeaway: “Reviewers do not understand what motivates people to buy.” ~ Dan Frommer on Twitter

The reason I’m bullish (while some critics are calling bull$hit) on the Apple Watch is because Apple is asking all the right questions and they have a proven track record of success. Some will say this makes me an Apple fanboy.

You’re entitled to your opinion, and I’m entitled to know you’re wrong and stupid. ~ God (@TheTweetOfGod)

I say it makes me way more likely to be right. We’ll have to “watch” and see. ((The goodness of the true pun is in the direct ratio of its intolerability. ~ Edgar Allan Poe))

The Apple Watch Augean Stables

I’ve never seen so many ridiculously definitive opinions of an unreleased product as I have with Apple Watch. ~ Jim Dalrymple on Twitter

There are so many wrong things being said about the Apple Watch it would take years — even for a Mythical beast like the Macalope — to respond to them all.

Fascinating how “I don’t know what Apple is doing” comes out of people’s mouths as “Apple doesn’t know what it is doing.” ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)

Rather than attempt the Herculean task (think Augean Stables) of cleaning up the mess left behind by each and every one of these misguided missives, I thought it would be better to examine the flawed thinking that causes so many of us to get it so very wrong when when attempting to evaluate the validity of a new tech category.


No Need

The primary criticism directed towards the Apple Watch is there is no need for it to exist. Some typical examples of this kind of thinking:

“The problem with the Apple Watch is that Apple didn’t explain what problem it solved.” ~ Jay Yarow

“It’s still not obvious that (the Apple Watch) is a need-to-have and not a nice-to-have…” ~ John Jackson of IDC

“Apple released the much-anticipated — and much-hyped — Apple Watch last week…. Unfortunately for Cook, he never gave us a reason to want or need the gee-whiz gadgetry.” ~ Jonathon M. Trugman

“What we’ve seen is that it’s not obvious why people would want a smartwatch.” ~ Gownder

“Apple’s newest creation replicates many of the functions that the smartphone already makes so seamless…. People are unlikely to want to shell out a sum between $350 (for the most basic model) and $17,000 (for the fanciest version) for something with so few extra functions.” ~ The Economist (via Daring Fireball)

“The question is, are there enough people willing to make this additional purchase for the ability to do things that, frankly, they can already do on their phone?” ~ Bob O’Donnell of TECHnalysis Research.

“Since I have a computer on my desk and in my family room and in my pocket, why do I need one on my wrist? Why can’t I just take that wrist, send it into my pocket and use the iPhone contained therein?” ~ John Crudele

No Need Redux

Gee. Why does this all sound so very familiar? Oh yeah. It’s because we heard the exact same “no need” argument five years ago when the iPad ((Companies that made less revenue in 2014 than the iPad: McDonalds, American Airlines, Nike, Capital One, Xerox, Time Warner Cable, Kraft Foods, eBay, Starbucks, Marriott)) made its debut. Some examples:

“I cannot see a need for the thing.” ~ John Dvorak, MarketWatch, 22 October 2010

“The iPad is useless. Beautiful, but useless.” ~ Josh Belzman,, 20 May 2010

“It’s still unclear exactly what the iPad will do best.” ~ Rob Enderle, Enderle Group (also a Dell consultant), 1 March 2010

“Any tablet computer, including Apple’s eagerly anticipated iPad, will face serious problems in generating big sales. Tablets look cool, but the reality is they don’t do anything new.” ~ Michael Comeau, Minyanville, 5 March 2010

“I don’t get it.” It costs $500 for the basic model, when you could get a laptop with a lot more functionality for about the same price.” ~ Alex Cook, Seeking Alpha, 3 April 2010

“What an utter disappointment and abysmal failure of an Apple product. How can Steve Jobs stand up on that stage and hype this product up and not see everything this thing is not and everything this thing is lacking?” ~ Orange County Web Design Blog, 27 January 2010

Asking The Wrong Question

There is a reason why critics of the iPad in 2010 and critics of the Apple Watch in 2015 saw and see no need for a new category of device. The critics were and are asking the same wrong question and, unsurprisingly, getting the same wrong answer.

Critics of both the iPad and the Apple Watch frame the question this way:

“What does the Apple iPad do that the notebook/netbook computer cannot?”

“What does the Apple Watch do the iPhone cannot?”

Their inevitable answer is “not very much.”

However, that is the wrong way to approach the problem. A comparison between two products focuses the mind on features but consumers buy benefits, not features. When critics say, “I don’t see a need for a new product,” what they’re really saying is, “I haven’t considered what the product is being asked to do.”

There can be no right answer to the question of whether an iPhone or an Apple Watch is better until one knows what task the devices are being asked to accomplish. The question we should be asking is:

What job is the Apple Watch being hired to do?

What Job Is The Apple Watch Being Hired To Do?

Jobs are unstated needs. If users ask for them then they are not jobs that need doing. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

In my opinion ((This is my preliminary list of the things I think the Apple Watch is being asked to do. It’s a little fuzzy and I’m certain to have gotten it wrong in some particulars. As the Apple Watch is used by more and more people, the job it is being asked to do will come more and more into focus)), the three jobs the Apple Watch is being hired to do are:

1) COMMUNICATOR: To make important incoming communications less intrusive and to make it faster and easier to send discreet and intimate outgoing communications

2) PLATFORM: To run software applications uniquely valuable when located on the wrist

3) INTERNET OF THINGS: To act as an intuitive or automatic trigger for the Internet of Things

I’ll throw in a bonus fourth job: The Apple Watch should be ever present on one’s person. It may seem to you and me the iPhone already serves this purpose, but many users put their iPhones in difficult to access pockets or purses or leave them behind when they’re at home. For those users, the watch — unlike the phone — is always on and always with you.

When we shift our focus from comparing devices to determining what those devices are being hired to do, our perspective is dramatically altered and the “No Need” argument simply falls away.

[pullquote]The iPhone can not do those things the Apple Watch is being asked to do.[/pullquote]

When we compare the iPhone to the Apple Watch, the Apple Watch appears to duplicate a subset of the iPhone’s features. However, when we compare the jobs each is being asked to do, it becomes clear there is very little overlap at all. The iPhone simply can not do, or can not do well, those things the Apple Watch is being asked to do.

Will The Apple Watch Do The Job?

Successful new categories are hard to predict precisely because they look like utter nonsense right up until the moment when they become massive successes.

One disrupts through finding problems that look irrelevant, or finding solutions that look irrelevant. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 9/24/14

Of course the problem is not everything that looks like utter nonsense will become successful. So how do we distinguish between the two?

It starts with asking the right questions and ends with waiting until one has experienced the benefits of the product before pronouncing judgment.

With smartwatches, even more than phones, even more than tablets, even more than PCs, any verdict requires actual use in the real world. ~ Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken)


Things to know when making conservative predictions about a new Apple product:

1. You will be wrong.
2. It will be referenced forever.

Aaron Levie on Twitter

I think Apple has been asking the right questions.

(Jony Ive) craved products that didn’t force adjustments of behavior, that gave what Powell Jobs called a “feeling of gratitude that someone else actually thought this through in a way that makes your life easier.

Only experience with the product will tell us whether they’ve come up with the right answers.

If it can’t do any useful job then it won’t get hired. Conversely, if it nails an unmet job, it will be blindingly successful. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

Premature Predictions About The Apple Watch

On February 27, 2015, Brian X. Chen penned an article entitled: “Apple’s New Job: Selling a Smartwatch to an Uninterested Public”, and on March 2, 2015, Mark Wilson published “You Guys Realize The Apple Watch Is Going To Flop, Right?” Let’s take a look at their critiques of the yet to be released Apple Watch.

There is going to be an unprecedented level of incomprehension and trolling around Apple Watch. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 9/30/14

But by all means, write articles that Apple is going to lose. Makes my job easier. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent) 10/27/14

Consumers Not Excited About Category

For Apple, the hard part — making a smartwatch — is nearly over.

Soon it will be time for the harder part: selling the long-anticipated Apple Watch to consumers who, so far, are not very excited about the idea of wearing computers on their bodies. ~ Brian X. Chen

Saying consumers are not excited about the idea of wearing computers on their bodies is like saying horse owners, prior to the introduction of the Ford Model-T, were not very excited about being seen in horseless carriages. Mister Chen has it backwards. People are not excited about wearables because today’s wearables are not exciting. Trust me, when wearables become useful — similar to when cars became useful — customers will be plenty excited about the category.

Abandoned Features

Nearly two years ago, the company experimented with advanced health monitoring sensors that tracked blood pressure and stress, among other variables. Many of those experiments were abandoned more than 18 months ago after the sensors proved unreliable and cumbersome, these people said. ~ Brian X. Chen

First, features from prototypes often don’t make it into the final product.

A good design finds an elegant way to put all the features you need in in. A great design leaves half those features out. ~ Inspired by Mike Monteiro (@Mike_FTW)

Second, have we learned nothing from Apple’s history of making products? Apple is famous for creating products that contain fewer features and a better user experience. For example, if you wanted a mobile phone with more features than the iPhone, you could have purchased a Droid.

iDon’t have a real keyboard.
iDon’t run simultaneous apps.
iDon’t take night shots.
iDon’t allow open development.
iDon’t customize.
iDon’t run widgets.
iDon’t have interchangeable batteries.
Everything iDon’t…Droid does.

Verizon Advertisement, 18 October 2009

Valuing features over the user experience is the second biggest mistake in consumer market analysis. ((Valuing price over user experience is the first most consistent mistake.))

Flooded Market

Still, when Apple releases its watch in April, it will enter a market already flooded with smartwatches running Android Wear, a version of Google’s Android software system tailored for wearable computers.

Flooded market? That’s just not so. In relative terms, the number of smartwatches on the market is minuscule and their impact on consumers has been negligible.

Further, although the Apple Watch may share the same category as current smartwatches, that does not mean that they are in the same class. The Apple Watch is as different from the current crop of smartwatches as the iPod, iPhone and iPad were different from the MP3 players, mobile phones and tablets that preceded them.

Measuring the existing market is a mistake because the existing products are hired for different jobs.

For example, were tactile keyboard Smartphones from 2006, below, ever a real threat to the touch-based iPhone? No. They may have been in the same category, but they were most definitely not in the same class and they were most definitely not competing for same customer base.


Andy Rubin on seeing the obvious, non-novel iPhone: “Holy crap.” ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

The Apple Watch may or may not succeed, but it is facing virtually no competition for the customers that it is targeting.


Five years from now, we will look back on round shaped smartwatches and view them the same way that we currently view physical keyboards on touchscreen smartphones.


Unlikely To Be Game Changer

But it is unlikely to be a game-changer for Apple, at least anytime soon. Toni Sacconaghi, a financial analyst for Sanford C. Bernstein research, thinks the watch will make only a modest contribution to Apple’s bottom line this year. He predicts that Apple will ship 7.5 million watches in the second half of the year.

That is peanuts compared with the tens of millions of iPhones that fly off the shelves every quarter. ~ Brian X. Chen

With all due respect to Mister Chen, this analysis of what constitutes a “game changer” is wrong on many levels.

First, contending that a product has to outsell the iPhone in order to be considered a “game changer” is setting the bar at an impossibly high level. After all, the iPhone, by itself, brings in more revenue than such tech luminaries as Microsoft or Google. Suggesting that a product has to be bigger than Microsoft, or bigger than Google, in order to be considered a “game changer” is unrealistic.

Our goal isn’t to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it’s the truth…Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal. ~ Jony Ive

Second, the term “game changer” and “money maker” are not one and the same. The Macintosh was surely a “game changer”, yet Apple is only the fifth largest maker of PCs in the world today, and it took them thirty years to rise to that level.

We’re not focused on the numbers, we’re focused on the things that produce the numbers. ~ Tim Cook

Third, aren’t we employing a double-standard here? Google Glass, for example, was widely considered to be a “game changer” — right up until the moment when it was discontinued. And is it going to outsell the iPhone? Not hardly.

What’s the over-under on how long it will take Apple Watch to outsell Google Glass? A minute? No, seriously… a minute? Less? ~ Frank Boosman (@fboosman) 11/18/14

Jonathan Ive’s New Newton

The Apple Watch is Jonathan Ive’s new Newton. It’s a potentially promising form that’s being built about 10 years before Apple has the technology or infrastructure to pull it off in a meaningful way.

As a result, the novel interactions that could have made the Apple watch a must-have device aren’t in the company’s launch product, nor are they on the immediate horizon. ~ Mark Wilson

The next Newton? Hmm. Why does that sound so familiar?

I’m more convinced than ever that, after an initial frenzy of publicity and sales to early adopters, iPhone sales will be unspectacular… iPhone may well become Apple’s next Newton. ~ David Haskin, Computerworld, 26 February 2007

A product ahead of its time. Hmm. Why does that sound so familiar?

I added it up and … like 800 people are going to buy the iPad. . . . It’s not that the iPad is a failure. It’s just a product ahead of its time. No one should actually buy this iPad — between its inevitable first-generation bugs, fulfillment problems, and buyer’s remorse over added features and price drops, it’s heartbreak waiting to happen. ~ Molly Wood, CNet, 31 January 2010

JetsonsHow is the Apple Watch ahead of its time anymore than the iPhone was ahead of its time? The iPhone had WAY less support than the Apple Watch does. The iPhone didn’t even have native applications during its first year of existence and even after they were added in 2008, Apple didn’t have the base of developers that it does today.

Even if it is opened up to third parties, it is difficult to see how the installed base of iPhones can reach the level where it becomes a truly attractive service platform for operator and developer investment. ~ Tony Cripps, Ovum Service Manager for Mobile User Experience, 14 March 2007

I owned the original iPhone. Compared to today’s phones, and even compared to the second and third generation iPhones, it couldn’t compete. But compared to what came before it, it blew the competition away. I suspect that the same will be true of the Apple Watch.

You want to wait? Go ahead. But I, for one, still don’t regret having owned the original iPhone and I doubt whether those who buy an Apple Watch in April will look back and regret their purchases either.

Just Another Fitness Band

(R)eports suggest that Apple has pulled a lot of the power-draining specialty hardware from the watch—namely sensors to measure “blood pressure, heart activity, and stress levels, among other things.” That’s deep health mining stuff—much deeper than the heart rate and accelerometer-based movements the Apple Watch that ships will offer. In this sense, the Apple Watch will no longer stand out from any other fitness band on the market. ~ Mark Wilson

With all due respect, I have to vehemently disagree. The communication tools alone — including smart replies, emoji, dictation, voice messaging, walkie-talkie, glances, digital touch, sketch and doodles, Siri, taptic engine, and heartbeat — will be more than enough to distinguish the Apple Watch from all other fitness bands.

Besides, the Apple Watch isn’t about being a fitness band, it’s about being a platform.

We never saw ourselves in a platform war with Microsoft, and maybe that’s why we lost. ~ Steve Jobs

[pullquote]It is platform, more than anything else, that will matter most.[/pullquote]

I would contend that Apple — both with the iPhone, and now with the Apple Watch — very much see themselves in a platform war. And it’s a war they intend to win.

Will the Apple Watch have more sensors in future models? You betcha. But that will not be what makes or breaks it. The Apple Watch is a platform and the foundation for that platform is being laid now. Focusing on missing sensors is like focusing on the missing cut and paste feature in the original iPhone. It is platform, more than anything else, that will matter most.

Not For The Masses

When I look at the Apple Watch, I’m not seeing an empathetic creation for the masses. I’m seeing what the New Yorker’s more than 16,000-word story on Jonathan Ive would only hint at—that Apple may have built out the watch to satisfy the urges of a designer who has become more obsessed with Bentleys and Rolexes than making attractive, functional technology that will actually make life better for the 99%. ~ Mark Wilson

What? When the heck did Apple become the company that made products “for the masses”?

The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. ~ Matthew Lynn, Bloomberg, 15 January 2007

Hasn’t the knock on Apple always been that they make high-priced products for those who have too much money and too little sense?

(O)n some level, (Apple is) failing consumers when only 18% of the global smartphone population has an iPhone. ~ Jay Yarow, Business Insider, 24 May 2013

No Jay, you’re wrong. In fact, you’ve gotten it exactly backwards. Apple is the integrated solution that creates markets, not the modular solution that expands markets.

We’ve always believed that our role in life is to make the best, not the most. ~ Tim Cook

Apple created new product categories with the Mac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. They are the cutting edge that clears the path for others to follow. If you question that statement, simply take a look at the operating system you are using on your desktop and notebook computers, the operating system on your touch devices, and the physical design of your notebook computers, your smartphones and your tablets. They were all inspired by Apple designs.

You know its driven Apple from the beginning… This compulsion to take incredibly powerful technology and make it accessible. ~ Jony Ive


As it happens, I think the Apple Watch will be a thing. Others do not. But we don’t know. Let’s come back in six months and see. ~ Benedict Evans

Yeah, I too think the Apple Watch is going to do all right — actually much more than just “all right”. I think, with Apple’s track record, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. But that doesn’t mean that I KNOW the Apple Watch is going to do well. Because I just don’t know. And I’m willing to wait and see how it plays out before jumping to any premature conclusions. But the one thing I am not willing to do is to sit here and listen to a lot of nonsensical guff as to why it won’t work out.

You’ve got a good theory as to how it will all turn out? Bring it on. But if all you’ve got is the weak sauce people like Brian Chen and Mark Wilson have been serving up, then shut up, get some popcorn, sit down, and wait in silence for the curtain to go up, like the rest of us. It promises to be one hell of a show.

BONUS CLAIM CHOWDER: Why Apple’s Upcoming Presentation Will Be A Failure

Steve Jobs’ blockbuster keynote address at last week’s Macworld was brilliantly and powerfully delivered — one of his best ever. It was also a colossal mistake. I think Jobs blew it. Here are my six reasons why:

1. Jobs raised buyer expectations too high.

2. Jobs raised Wall Street expectations too high.

3. Jobs gave competitors a head start.

4. Jobs undermined Apple TV hype

5. Jobs put iPod sales at risk.

6. Jobs wrecked Cisco talks.

Mike Elgan, Computerworld, 18 January 2007

Thanks for your insight, Mike. I can’t wait ((Actually, I can wait. I can wait forever.)) to hear the many reasons why the upcoming Apple Watch presentation “blew it” too.

Tech Geeks, Apple Watch And The Upcoming Fashion Apocalypse

What Is A Tech Geek?

Definition: “Tech Geek”

Someone with ridiculous skills on a computer/phone/iPod/other electronical device and scares us mere earthlings. they have a habit of breaking these after stretching them beyond their ability for normal usage. they also sometimes know more about a product than the producer. ~ Urban Dictionary

There are many stereotypes surrounding Tech Geeks. Are these stereotypes fair? What is this, kindergarten? Who cares if they’re fair ((A person reveals his character by nothing so clearly as the joke he resents. ~ Georg C. Lichtenberg)).

A programmer’s wife tells him: “Go to the market and grab some apples. If they have eggs, grab a dozen.” The programmer returns with 13 apples.

A Tech Geek and his wife are out for a drive in the country. The wife says, “Oh, look! Those sheep have been shorn.” “Yes,” says the Tech Geek. “On this side.”

If a Tech Geek had named Kentucky Fried Chicken, it would have been called “Hot Dead Birds.” ((Via Jan Dawson (@jandawson))

A Tech Geek is someone who can’t sleep at night worrying that someone, somewhere is enjoying tech without having first truly understood how it works.

What Are Tech Geeks Good At?

images-103Most of my articles focus on the fact Tech Geeks know a lot about things and little to nothing about human nature.

Every man loves what he is good at. ~ Thomas Shadwell

We often refuse to accept that we are not good observers of human nature because, ironically, it’s human nature not to do so. We’re not good at knowing what we’re not good at knowing.

Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. ~ Will Rogers

What Are Tech Geeks Not So Good At?

images-104Even the most conceited and myopic Tech Geek will acknowledge that the vast majority of Tech Geeks — present company excepted, of course — knows zilch, zippo, zip, zero, null, nix, naught, nada, nothing about fashion.

Don’t be humble. You’re not that great. ~ Golda Meir

Tech Geeks struggle to understand normals, more less fashionistas ((fashionista |ˌfaSHəˈnēstə| noun informal
1 a designer of haute couture.
2 a devoted follower of fashion: sleek designs that press all the fashionistas’ buttons)), but apparently even though we know we know less-than-nothing about fashion, that does not stop us from thinking that we’re qualified to pontificate upon the subject. Sigh.

The worst kind of arrogance is arrogance from ignorance. ~ Jim Rohn

A Tech Geek Has Got To Know His Limitations

Dirty Harry once observed “A man’s gotta know his limitations.”

Tech Geeks have to know their limitations too. We’re not good at fashion. If fashion were water, we’d be out of our depth in a puddle.


Author’s Note: Image stolen from a Horace Dediu Tweet

I mean, honestly, are you going to tell me you understand that jacket? Just to put things in perspective, that jacket costs $695.00. You could buy one of those jackets or TWO Apple Watches. Go figure.

For most of us, fashion is — and forever will be — A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. ((In the fall of 1939, following the Soviet occupation of East Poland, Winston Churchill told the British public in a radio broadcast, “I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma….))

Are Tech Geek’s Qualified To Judge The Apple Watch?

In a word: “No.”

It seems smart watches will have to be analyzed both by fashion and by function. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

The worst thing about techies covering this Apple event is the lack of understanding of fashion. ~ Abdel Ibrahim (@abdophoto)

Pretty sure a very different set of reviewers is going to be necessary for the Apple Watch. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

The Apple Watch is maybe the best example of how disconnected most techies are from what people want and love. ~ Abdel Ibrahim (@abdophoto)

The vast majority of us are not even close to being qualified to comment on fashion. But we comment anyhow.

It’s All Geek To Us

Apple Watch is the antithesis of what we’ve come to expect from Apple. Software looks absolutely amazing, hardware design is dated and ugly. ~ Zach Epstein (@zacharye)

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the #AppleWatch looks silly. ~ Thomas Halleck (@tommylikey)

Where do you come off thinking that you can be the judge of what is and what is not fashionable?

QUESTION: You’re trapped in a room with a tiger, a rattlesnake and a tech geek who wants to give you his opinion on fashion. You have a gun and two bullets. What should you do?

ANSWER: Shoot the geek. Twice. To make sure.

Apple’s New Disruption

Fashion or Tech?

If Apple thinks they’re competing with Luxury watch makers and not technology companies they’ve already failed. ~ (Name redacted to protect the guilty)

It doesn’t have to be one or the other — fashion OR tech. Apple could be competing against “both.”

Steve (Jobs) always wanted to stay one step ahead. When the industry started to become very colorful and lickable, then he realized—and Jony and I realized—that we needed to take a different path. ~ Don Lindsay ((Excerpt From: Max Chafkin. “Design Crazy.” iBooks.

CAPTION: People lined up to look at, not buy, Apple Watch in Paris’ fashion district


The most interesting disruption comes from attacking an industry from what looks like an irrelevant angle. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

One disrupts through finding problems that look irrelevant, or finding solutions that look irrelevant. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Apple is attacking the watch industry with tech. And Apple is attacking the tech industry with fashion.

What could be more irrelevant to the watch industry than tech? Watches are already as accurate as they are ever going to need to be. And what could be more irrelevant to the tech industry than fashion? Most tech insiders wouldn’t know what was and what wasn’t fashionable even if it was literally sitting on their faces.


It’s classic strategy. Concentrate your strengths against your opponent’s weaknesses.

The Competition

Can you picture any watch maker competing with Apple’s technological prowess? Can you picture any of Apple’s current tech competitors competing with Apple’s fashion sense?

Can you imagine something fashionable coming from Google, Amazon, Facebook, or Microsoft? They are tech companies. Nothing more. ~ Lou Miranda (@TheNewLou)

Apple has not just “stolen a march” on Google. If the Apple Watch is successful, Apple will have practically made their watches competitor-proof on the high-end. Fashion is just not in Google’s DNA. (To be fair, fashion is not in the DNA of any tech company and, until September 9th, no one thought that it should be.)

Exploit The Line Of Least Resistance

Sun Tzu advised one to “strike into vacuities,” — to move into undefended space, and to “attack objectives the enemy must rescue.”

Google and Facebook defend against disruption by jumping over the horizon to entirely new tech. Apple, by jumping to things that weren’t tech before. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Apple is not a tech company, and Apple Watch is not a tech product. ~ John Gruber

There is no way to know IF the Apple Watch will be a success because the final product is not yet available and we haven’t yet seen the public’s reaction to that product.

The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all. ~ Mark Twain

However, IF the Apple Watch is a success, I think it’s going to be very, very hard for competitors to mount an adequate response.


Tech Geeks are good at things, not people. And we’re especially not good at fashion. But like most people, the less we know about a subject, the stronger our opinion on that subject is.

There is going to be an unprecedented level of incomprehension and trolling around Apple Watch. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Remember the disdain that was poured upon the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad when they first appeared? That’s going to be nothing compared to the bile poured upon the Apple Watch. Apple thinks that fashion is the ultimate weapon in the tech wars. Tech Geeks think that fashion is a joke. We’ll have to wait and see who has the last laugh.

Apple Watch Claim Chowder

People really love to hate Apple. It should be considered a disorder at this point. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

The Apple Watch may or may not fail, but the analysis of the Watch has already failed. People just cannot wait to pronounce judgment. They. Can. Not. Wait. There’s plenty of thoughtful analysis out there, but mostly we’re hearing the same old discredited theories dredged up and reanimated like some horrible army of undead zombies.

About one-fifth of the people are against everything all the time. ~ Robert F. Kennedy

There is something within human nature that immediately has a knee-jerk negative reaction to the new. If we’re not familiar with it; if we cannot understand it, we condemn it. Instead of saying: “I know little or nothing about this, so I’ll learn more and suspend judgement until I do” we instead say: “I know nothing about this…so it must suck.”

People’s reaction to ideas: Bad ideas: “That’ll never work” Good ideas: “That could work” Great ideas: “That’ll never work”

Not only are we terrible at assessing the new, but we seem compelled to share our uninformed opinions with EVERYBODY.

He who knows little quickly tells it. ~ Italian Proverb

Some say it’s wrong to mock those who make obviously stupid statements. There’s no sport in it.

Making fun of Apple’s critics is like hunting dairy cows with a high powered rifle and scope. ~ NOT P. J. O’Rourke

Others focus on more humanitarian arguments:

Do we really need insults at all? Aren’t insults just the precinct of the desperate or powerless, or simply of people too dim-witted to make cogent and logical arguments? Isn’t the whole phenomenon of insults…a sign of the general coarsening of culture? Such concerns are shared by many people, all of them half-witted, imbecilic cretins. ~ Insults Every Man Should Know

Look. These pundits said what they said. If they don’t like it, they can try to explain it away.

The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. ~ Robert Benchley

But don’t expect me to cut them any breaks. If they didn’t want to come off looking stupid, they shouldn’t have said stupid things.

I don’t suffer fools, and I like to see fools suffer.~ Florence King

images-102Intelligent debate is welcome and there are many questions surrounding Apple’s newly announced Apple Watch. But patently dumb allegations should not be debated — they should be mocked. So here are a couple (hundred) of my most unfavorite quotes, in all their glory, arranged sorta, kinda alphabetically by topic. Let the mocking begin.

Author’s Note: Some of the quoted material contains (R rated) curse words. I decided to use verbatim quotes in order to accurately convey their original tone and meaning.

Premature Punditry

I’ve got to start with this one via the Macalope. Dominic Basulto writes “Why I’d never buy an Apple smartwatch (even if Anna Wintour loves it)“. The beauty of this article is that it was written BEFORE Apple’s September 9th Event.

From all the rumors and leaks, it now appears that Apple is going to unveil the mythical iWatch at its much-hyped product launch event on Sept. 9. While nothing has been definitely confirmed … I still wouldn’t buy it.

As the Macalope says:

It’s always best to make summary judgments on things you know nothing about. That’s just logic.

Sameer Singh suggests a different approach.

Never dismiss a new product outright. Attempt to understand why it’s needed. Draw conclusions later. ~ Sameer Singh (@sameer_singh17)

Nah, that’s never going to happen. From the Claim Chowder archives:

Apple begins selling its revolutionary iPhone this summer and it will mark the end of the string of hits for the company. ~ Todd Sullivan, Seeking Alpha, 15 May 2007

Fools never learn.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. ~ Alexander Pope

Against logic there is no armor like ignorance. ~ Dr. Laurence J. Peter

People will always jump to conclusions and judge things that they don’t understand. You have to ignore all of the ignorant people out there. ~ Steve Jobs


Showed my mom a tablet. She instantly got it and bought one. Same with Apple TV. If I showed her this watch…nope. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

Me: Hi mom, I’m back in town. How are you? Mom: I’m watching the Apple event. Me: Finally! Mom: Again! When can I order a watch? Me: !!! ~ Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie)

You’ve got your anecdotes and I’ve got mine. The important thing to remember is that anecdotal evidences is the BEGINNING of inquiry, never the end. Isolated stories can point us toward the truth, but they are not WHOLE truth. In fact, when taken in isolation, anecdotes are more likely to mislead than to lead.

Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feeling for the strength of their argument. ~ Anonymous

It’s bad to bring in a verdict before all the evidence is in. It’s even worse to bring in a verdict before the trial has even begun.

Battery Life

Apple hasn’t solved the basic smartwatch dilemma, which is that smart watches use up far more energy than dumb watches, and that there’s nowhere to store that much energy in something the size of a watch. Indeed, Apple has made the problem worse, by combining a powerful computer with a very bright, ultra-high-resolution, full-color display. Either of those things would require a lot of energy; both together require a very thick watch and a limited battery life. ~ Felix Salmon

My first knee-jerk reaction to the Apple Event was similar to the above. Apple didn’t announce battery life and I took that as a bad sign. Then I reconsidered. The product doesn’t even exist yet. Apple literally COULD NOT have announced the final battery life figures because they don’t know what they are. So I decided to cool my jets and wait until the numbers are announced. There will be more than plenty of time to criticize the battery life figures once we know what they are. Why start now?

Imaginary obstacles are insurmountable. Real ones aren’t. ~ Barbara Sher

And while we’re waiting for those battery life numbers to appear, let’s chow down on some delicious battery life claim chowder from yesteryear. Yum!

Unless Apple has also developed some new type of power source, such as nuclear cells or magical hamsters on tiny spinning wheels for the iPad, don’t expect the claims about battery life to hold true. ~ John Breeden II, Government Computer News, 28 January 2010

We hate the very idea that our own ideas may be mistaken, so we cling dogmatically to our conjectures. ~ Karl Popper

Charging Cable


Ugh, not another charging cable! ~ Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern)

Having to charge yet another device every day will be a bridge too far for many. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

(T)he user will have to take off the device for 1/3 of his life as well as carry an extra cable around with him. ~ Radio Free Mobile

Oh NO! We won’t have our device available to us for a full one-third of our life!

Admittedly, we’ll be asleep during that time, and dead to the world…

But still! One third of our life! And! And! And! And we’ll have to carry an extra cable! Oh, the horror! Oh, the HUMANITY!


Sheesh. I swear, if Apple made a time machine, we’d all be complaining about it having a proprietary power cable. Sigh.

People thought it was scandalous that the iPhone needed to be charged nightly. Not a deal breaker if worth it. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)

Buck up, people. We may not be the Greatest Generation, but I think we can tough it out and suffer through yet another charging cable.

Make it your habit not to be critical about small things. ~ Edward Everett Hale

They that are serious in ridiculous things will be ridiculous in serious affairs. ~ Cato the Elder


A watch playing Coldplay is a bug, not a feature. ~ John Collison (@collision)

Okay, I’ll concede that one.


Wearing a radio directly on the body spooks many people who rationally or irrationally fear the health risks of close electromagnetic radiation. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Oh, for the love of G….

Look, what are you trying to say here? That I’d be more fearful of having all of those “irrationally-perceived-as-dangerous” radio waves at the end of my wrist rather than in my pants pocket right next to my jumbly-wumblies?

Are you freaking kidding me?

Never miss a good chance to shut up. ~ Cowboy wisdom


AppleWatch may have a heart rate monitor but so does every serious athlete already. ~ Eric Perlberg (@eric_perlberg)

We never seem to get this right. It’s not the eggs that make the soufflé, it’s the Chef. Saying “every one already has” a feature is like saying that “every restaurant already has” eggs, therefore, every restaurant is of equal quality. Apple is the Master Chef of ecosystems. Others are more akin to the Dirty Spoon.



(A)t $349 [Apple Watch] is significantly more expensive than its better looking competitors (Moto360 $249, LG G Watch R $230). ~ Radio Free Mobile


It’s expensive — and not covered by carrier subsidies. It’s $600 for the whole package of a subsidized $200 iPhone and the $400 Watch. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Apple clearly believes that the Apple Watch’s advances in size, speed, function and elegance are worth the $150 price premium, but not everyone feels that way. In an informal poll at the Web site, 40 percent of Mac fans indicated that they would not be buying an Apple Watch, and every single one cited the price.

Oh wait! Did I say “Apple Watch”? That last paragraph was actually a 2001 quote from Macworld concerning the original iPod, not the Apple Watch. Note how the nature of the products change, but the nature of the criticism remains exactly the same.

Presuming all decisions are based on price is the easiest way to mispredict the future. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)

Every time Apple brings out a product, critics cite price as its fatal flaw, even when such criticism makes little or no sense.

“iPads are too expensive which is why most of the buyers are new to iPad” Wait, what? ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent) 7/24/14

Many of Apple’s critics have never understood the difference between price and value. As we move toward wearable computers, the disconnect is only going to grow greater.

The more personal the computer the more value we will place upon it. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

The most expensive Apple Watch will cost more than the most expensive iPhone which will cost more than most PCs. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

And now that Apple is going high fashion? Look out. Most of us are going to lose our grip on pricing entirely.

(There’s going to be a) nerd meltdown when we all learn what “fashion” items cost. ~ Cabel Sasser (@cabel)

When the prices of the steel and (especially) gold Apple Watches are announced, I expect the tech press to have the biggest collective shit-fit in the history of Apple-versus-the-standard-tech-industry shit-fits. ~ John Gruber

Normally, as the price of an item goes down, demand goes up. However, as Ben Thompson likes to point out, with Veblen goods (named after economist Thorstein Veblen, who popularized understanding of the effect) as the price of the product goes up, the demand rises too. This is because the “job” a Veblen good is “hired to do” is not utility alone — it’s added prestige. Veblen goods are counterintuitive and full of surprises for the unwary.

Asia is by far the biggest market for Swiss watch exports accounting for 55 percent July shipments.” ~ CNBC

What folks don’t understand about Asian luxury market in particular is people buy BECAUSE it’s expensive. ~ Ben Thompson (@monkbent)

If you don’t have a background in engineering, you shouldn’t be commenting on how to construct the space station. And if you don’t have a background in economics, you shouldn’t be commenting on pricing, either.

The Prophets of the Church of Marketshare never understood Apple’s premium business model to begin with, even though there is a premium provider for almost every good and service known to man. Woman too. And now that Apple is moving toward fashion pricing, the explosive growth in the number of tech bloggers who will think they are qualified to comment on economic theory is simply going to boggle the mind.

Tech bears the same relationship to fashion as a multiple-choice test does to an essay exam.


I have no doubts [Apple Watch] will sell. If I had money to blow I’d buy one out of curiosity. But that’s not a product. It’s a fad. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

The iPhone was a fad too.

The iPhone is a commodity. That’s really all Apple’s iStuff is — an enormous and very profitable fad. It’s the Pet Rock of the new millennium. ~ Anders Bylund, Motley Fool, 6 Mar 2012

Data Processing was a fad too.

I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year. ~ editor of business books, Prentice Hall publishers, 1957

Movies were a fad too.

Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage. ~ Charlie Chaplin

Be awfully careful before you summarily label — and then dismiss — something as a “fad”. It’s lazy and, even worse, misleading analysis.

Who is there who can make muddy waters clear? But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually clear itself. ~ Lao-tsu



(A)t today’s Cupertino, California, event, we — the press, the world at large — were treated to a beautifully designed smartwatch (e.g., those interchangeable straps) laden with an embarrassing slew of useless gimmicks. … Cheap tricks that consumers will tire of after a few weeks. ~ Joseph Volpe

Heres an idea Apple – rather than enter the world of gimmicks and toys, why don’t you spend a little more time sorting out your pathetically expensive line up? Or are you really aiming to become a glorified consumer gimmicks firm?

Oops! So sorry. That last quote was taken from the forums at Macrumors and refers to the introduction of the original iPod in 2001, not the Apple Watch in 2014. My bad.

Hubris is one of the great renewable resources. ~ P. J. O’Rourke

The line between gimmicks and genius is thin, as both Jan Dawson and Benedict Evans remind us:

This stuff Apple is demoing now is classic Apple. Thin line between Samsung’s gimmicks and Apple’s delighters, but fairly clear here. ~ Jan Dawson (@jandawson)

There’s an interesting line between products everyone thinks are crap and products everyone thinks are stupid. The latter change the world. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Since the line between gimmick and genius is so thin — and since the consequences of getting it wrong are so great — we should think long and hard before we summarily dismiss something as a mere gimmick. Gimmicks, like art forgeries, abound and they need to be identified and discarded. But let’s not allow our analytical brushes to paint too quickly or with too broad a stroke, lest we conceal the subtle masterpiece.

Some things have to be believed to be seen. ~ Ralph Hodgson

I Don’t Get It

I don’t get it. … Apple did not save wearables, as many thought it would. … Apple unveiled something, at best, lukewarm. At most, it’s prettier than the smartwatches that’ve come before, and that’s likely its greatest innovation. ~ Joseph Volpe, Endgadget

I don’t see it. Exquisite but no values behind it (except for design values). ~ Sean Egan (@Sean_Egn)

Here’s an idea. If you don’t understand something — REMAIN SILENT.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. ~ Abraham Lincoln

Good advice, seldom taken.

Worth remembering: the industry thought the iPod was stupid when it first came out. Even as recently as the iPad, people missed the point. ~ Jared Cocken (@engers)

We’ll see. It’s worth remembering that the iPod, iPhone and iPad, in turn, were greeted with initial skepticism. Apple Watch seeks to be the next in that lineage, routing the skeptics and delivering a massive payoff for Apple. ~ Steve Lohr, The New York Times

It’s okay not to get something. But it’s not at all okay for us to take that one step further and assume that because we don’t get it, it can’t be got. It’s like we’re blind, so we assume that everyone else must be blind too. It just ain’t so. If we don’t “get something”, that’s a sure sign that we should be shutting our mouths and opening our minds.

Half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at. ~ Solomon Short quotes

I Don’t Wear A Watch

The Apple Watch seems lovely. The problem is I don’t wear a watch, and 75% our office does not wear one either. ~ ariel seidman (@aseidman)

Most people don’t wear watches anymore. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

Jan Dawson explains this kind of thinking in a wholly unrelated article entitled: “NO-ONE I KNOW VOTED FOR NIXON” IN TECH“.

There’s a famous quote attributed to Pauline Kael, the movie critic, which is usually paraphrased as “How did Nixon win? I don’t know anyone who voted for him….”

The point was, Nixon had just won the US presidential election — in a landslide — and yet Pauline Kael lived in a world where almost no-one had voted for him.

I fear that the people who spend all day thinking and writing about technology often suffer from the same myopia about the behavior and mentality of the vast majority of everyday users of technology. We are nothing like them in many respects…. ~ Jan Dawson

When I was growing up, everybody wore a watch. Everybody. It’s only been a decade or so since some people stopped wearing watches and they did so because they were carrying mobile phones that also told time. In other words, the behavior of not wearing a watch 1) is recent; 2) is of relatively short duration; and 3) was caused by a shift in technology.

Source: XKCD

To suggest that no one will buy a wearable because you don’t wear a watch and no one you know wears a watch is the height of myopia — you’re living in a self-centric world where no one voted for Nixon.

The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones. ~ John Maynard Keynes

Think about it. Did you carry a phone in your pocket prior to 2007? If you did, you were in the 1%. Now half the U.S. (and growing) carries their phone with them everywhere. Why the change in behavior? Change in technology.

imgresDid you take pictures at public events using a ginormous tablet? Of course not. Who would do that? Well, turns out, lots and lots of people. (And it’s usually the ones seated just in front of you.) Why the change in behavior? Change in technology.

Stop saying you don’t wear a watch. You don’t wear a watch…yet. Tech changes. Behavior changes. Tech changes behavior. If wearing watches went out of style because of changes in technology, then wearing a watch can come back in style because of changes in technology too.

Wisdom consists of the anticipation of consequences. ~ Norman Cousins

Our inability to even contemplate — more less fathom — the possibility that tomorrow may be different from today reminds me of this joke:

One caterpillar to another, as they watch a butterfly: “You’ll never get me up in one of those things.”

I Only Need The Time

The things I miss most about wearing a watch would be fulfilled by wearing a watch and I can do that for $50. ~ The LeeBase (@TheLeeBase)

We used to only need to make phone calls too. And we could do that for $50. Then the iPhone came out in 2007. And now, we need more.


Our vision is more obstructed by what we think we know than by our lack of knowledge. ~ Kristen Stendahl

There is nothing more reactionary than the general public. For most of us, our vision of the near future is actually our recollection of the recent past.

A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others see. ~ Leroy Eims


Trip Chowdhry, Global Equities: Apple Watch is ground breaking – Innovation is back at Apple after a 3 year pause. ~ The Apple Watch: What the analysts are saying by Philip Elmer-DeWitt

A three year “pause,” ay?

Here’s the thing, Trip. It takes years to make an “overnight” success. The folks at Apple haven’t been sitting around on their barcaloungers sipping champagne and eating chocolate bonbons. They didn’t wake up on Monday, September 8th, and say: “Hey, everybody. Let’s innovate!” Then — bada bing, bada boom — out popped the Apple Watch just in time for the September 9th Event.

Hey! Wait just a darn tooting minute. Aren’t you the same Trip Chowdhry who said this:

[Apple has] only have 60 days left to either come up with something or they will disappear. ~ Trip Chowdhry (March 2014)

March, April, May….

Hmm. Maybe I should change the title of this article from “Claim Chowder” to “Claim Chowdhry”.

Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won’t have a leg to stand on.


I guess left-handed folk are supposed to switch wrists. ~ Patrick Igoe (@PatrickIgoe) [9/9/14, 2:07 PM]

I guess some left-handed people have the patience of a gnat.

For you lefties: The Apple Watch crown works OK when the watch is on your right hand. But there’s a southpaw mode which flips the UI around. ~ Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) [9/9/14, 5:17 PM]

Apple Watch can be inverted for left handers. Hurrah. ~ Matt Warman (@mattwarman) [9/9/14, 6:26 PM]

For you lefties: …there’s a southpaw mode which flips the UI around. ~ Peter Hilleren (@Peter000) [9/9/14, 6:38 PM]

Left-handers: You can just turn Apple Watch upside down (and swap straps around) and it’ll just work. ~ John Gruber (@gruber) [9/9/14, 9:49 PM]

I have more sources, if that’s not enough.

A handful of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. ~ Dutch proverb

Seriously. Can’t people just ask a question and then wait an hour or two for the answer before they start whining? I mean, honestly. Is it really asking so much?

It is a general rule that when the grain of truth cannot be found, men will swallow great helpings of falsehood. ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

Look And Feel

It is square and fat. 85% of wristwatches sold in the market are round and in pure looks, I think the Moto 360 and the LG G Watch R are much better. ~ Radio Free Mobile

The form factor has fixed limits — the small screen obviates advertising, electronics fatten the case, big fingers obscure the screen when touching. For many, the form will be seen as simply ugly. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Apple Watch ‘too feminine and looks like it was designed by a student in their first trimester’ (Boss of Tag Heuer, Zenith and Hublot says Apple has made “some fundamental mistakes” with its smart watch) – The Telegraph

It’s not a revolution and it’s not what any of us really expected. It’s lipstick on a smartwatch. It’s an accessory and nothing more. ~ Joseph Volpe, Engadget

All this coming from critics who have never seen nor touched nor worn nor experienced the Apple Watch.


Baffled by strong opinions on the Apple watch hardware from people who’ve not held one. I have held one and am still undecided. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

With smartwatches, even more than phones, even more than tablets, even more than PCs, any verdict requires actual use in the real world. ~ Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken)

Go back and re-read the above quote by Harry McCracken. Wearables simply cannot be understood until we’ve worn them. And nobody outside of Apple has worn them. Yet.

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth. ~ Jewish proverb

Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities. ~ Oscar Wilde


The Apple Watch names are strange. Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch Edition. Weird that two have third names, and Edition is odd. ~ Farhad Manjoo (@fmanjoo)

I like analyzing product names too, but truth be told, if the product is lousy, the name simply doesn’t matter. And if the product is great, the name simply doesn’t matter either.

Remember how critics mocked the name “iPad”? How’d that turn out?

Talk of product names reminds me of this classic Saturday Night Live skit.

Hmm. Perhaps Apple should name their next product: “Mangled Baby Ducks.”


Beautiful, but a niche product. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

The $350 watch market is niche at best. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

Gee. When have I heard this lament before? Oh yeah. Whenever Apple introduces a new product category. The $350 iPod will be niche, the $600 iPhone will be niche, the $500 iPad will be niche, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Some Claim Chowder from the archives:


The iPhone is a niche product. ~ Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, 17 April 2008

The iconic Apple iPhone will either not exist or occupy a very small niche satisfying the needs of committed Mac fans around five years from now. ~ Eugene Kaspersky, Kaspersky Lab, 27 April 2010


The tablet market has only succeeded as a niche market over the years and it was hoped Apple would dream up some new paradigm to change all that. From what I’ve seen and heard, this won’t be it. ~ John C. Dvorak, MarketWatch, 29 January 2010

For all the hype about an Apple tablet , it is at best a niche product. ~ Joe Wilcox, Betanews, 2 January 2010

The iPad will remain an expensive, niche device compared to all-purpose netbooks…. (N)etbooks sales will still far outstrip those of the iPad. ~ Preston Gralla, PC World, 30 March 2010

Niche, huh? Let’s see how those niche products panned out:

  1. In Q2, Apple made 68% of mobile device OEMs’ profits (65% in q1, 53% in Q2 13). Samsung – 40% (41% q1, 49% q2 13) Source: Canaccord Genuity ~ Daisuke Wakabayashi (@daiwaka) 8/5/14
  2. Quick Apple Q3 numbers for those who like that sort of thing: $37.4 billion; 7.7b profit; 35.2m iPhones; 13.3m iPads; 4.4m Macs; 2.9m iPods. ~ Macworld (@macworld)
  3. Apple’s iPhone sales alone were larger than the revenues at 474 of the companies in the S&P 500 stock index.

Most CEO’s would cut off their right arms to have “niche” products like those.

To be positive is to be mistaken at the top of one’s voice. ~ Ambrose Bierce

Pocket, Purse, Or Wrist?

Apple failed. They did not make the case to compel me to pay $350+ to reduce the pain of pulling my iPhone out of my pocket. ~ The LeeBase (@TheLeeBase)

For many, two devices on the body are unnecessary. Pulling the iPhone out of a pocket or purse is fine — most will not need another device to access payments or track health. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Ya’ know, human beings are kinda funny (in an odd sort of way). I guess it’s human nature to ignore human nature. Go figure.

The fundamental principle of human action—the law that is to political economy what the law of gravitation is to physics—is that men seek to gratify their desires with the least exertion. ~ Henry George

Do want to call that kind of behavior lazy? Okay, we’re lazy. But mostly, we’re human.

I’ve always felt extremely lazy when I explain my main reason for wanting an Apple Watch. It would eliminate the need for me to reach all the way into my pocket to retrieve my iPhone when it buzzed. I stand by my brazen laziness. And I very much appreciate that the Apple Watch will analyze incoming email to create its own “quick choice” reply. Very smart. ~ Ken Segall

Benedict Evans poses some important questions regarding the tablet and the smartphone, respectively:

How much was it worth not to have to open your laptop? ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

I use my phone even though my tablet is in my bag or my laptop on the table. How much does a watch cannibalise in the same way? ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

We know that a large proportion of smartphone use is done in the home, where a laptop or tablet is within easy reach. Shouldn’t that be telling us something? Persistence matters. Convenience matters. Laziness matters. Human nature matters.

And besides, what else — or should I say who else — are we ignoring here?

For half the population, your phone is not always in your pocket. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Oh yeah. The female of the species. Remember them? The one’s who do most of the shopping for (literally) mankind? The ones who wear most of the jewelry? The ones who make up the majority of people living on this planet? The ones who often put their phones in their purses instead of in their pockets?

We should be very, very careful not to substitute our judgment for the judgment of others. Just because we don’t like something; just we’re not enthusiastic about something; does not mean that others will feel the same way. That’s just common sense. Unfortunately, there is nothing so uncommon as common sense.


I see a world where the watch will eventually replace the phone. ~ AAPL Orchard

The long-term success of the iTime (or whatever it gets called) will be similar. If it can’t replace the iPhone completely it’s a goner. ~ John Dvorak

My stance on the smartwatch as a viable mobile accessory is unambiguous; I’ve argued my case before. As a category, it needs to replace — needs to completely replace our need for a cellphone. ~ Joseph Volpe, Engadget

That’s great and all, except that it’s completely wrong.

“A smartwatch doesn’t replace my smartphone.” “A tablet doesn’t replace my personal computer.” “A motorcycle doesn’t replace my car.” ~ AAPL Tree (@AAPLTree)

A device should not try to be something it’s not. It should be true to itself. Why would we want a smart watch that replaces our smartphones? We already have smartphones that work great. What we want — or what we should want — is for smart watches to do what they do best. No one is quite sure what that is yet, but you can be darned sure that squashing a smartphone down to the size of a watch is not going to work any better than squashing a Personal Computer down to the size of a tablet worked.

Replace the phone with the watch? You’ve got it all wrong. And don’t blame Apple just because your vision is faulty.

The worst kind of arrogance is arrogance from ignorance. ~ Jim Rohn



Forrester’s research is showing nascent interest by consumers. ~ Forrester CEO, George Colony

Yeah, about that. I’m not a big believer in surveys about products that don’t exist. You shouldn’t be either.


We’re finding — if you look at the surveys, you can see that large amount of the customers that have purchased touchscreen devices in last two years, they intend to get a device with the QWERTY keyboard on it now. ~ Mike Lazaridis, Co-CEO, Research In Motion, Inc, 16 April 2010


Days before the iPhone debuted, the market research company Universal McCann came out with a blockbuster report proving that practically nobody in the United States would buy the iPhone. “The simple truth,” said Tom Smith, the author of the iPhone-damning report, is that “convergence [an all-in-one device] is a compromise driven by financial limitations, not aspiration. In the markets where multiple devices are affordable, the vast majority would prefer that to one device fits all.” Solid survey research suggested not only that the iPhone would fail, but also that it would fail particularly hard in the United States because our phones and cameras are good enough, already. ~ Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Today there are lots and lots of people saying they have no interest in an Apple Watch or in the smart watch category altogether. They are telling the truth. They really can’t imagine owning a smart watch. However, their beliefs do not reflect the limits of the smart watch category. Their beliefs reflect the limits of their imagination.

You can’t ask people to decide on a trade-off when they have experience of one side but not the other. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)


It requires an iPhone to function making it very clear that this is an accessory rather than a new product category in its own right. ~ Radio Free Mobile

Toni Sacconaghi, Bernstein: While the device is aesthetically attractive, and has a very innovative UI (“digital crown” and differentiated touch), we struggle with the fact that the majority of the Watch’s functionality is dependent on the presence of an iPhone.

This shit better have some major non-tethered functionality. ~ Jason Hirschhorn (@JasonHirschhorn)

Remember when the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad were all tethered to the Mac? No? Neither does anyone else.

Memory may be a terrible librarian, but it’s a great editor. ~ Ralph Keyes

The iPod, the iPhone, the iPad and now the Apple Watch are or were tethered to another device. They offload or offloaded tasks which they could not handle or which they were ill-suited to perform to the better suited device. Tethering is not a fatal flaw. In fact, it can be a chief advantages. Take, for example, the iPod:

One of the biggest insights we have was that we decided not to try to manage your music library on the iPod, but to manage it in iTunes. Other companies tried to do everything on the device itself and made it so complicated that it was useless. ~ Steve Jobs

Unnecessary, Unneeded, Underwhelmed

The very first new post-Steve Jobs product, Apple Watch, is stunningly pretty, is functional — and is utterly unnecessary. ~ Brian S Hall (@brianshall)

Did not expect to be so underwhelmed by implementation. It’s basically Android Wear 2.0, which isn’t saying much. ~ J. Gobert (@MrGobert)

I think Apple Watch will be a flop. ~ The Tech Guy, Episode 1118

Great just what the world needs.

I was so hoping for something more.

The reason why everyone’s disappointed is because we had our hopes up for this incredible device.

Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!

Oh wait! Those last four quotes weren’t about the Apple Watch at all. They were taken from the forums at Macrumors and were referring to the launch of the original iPod.

The more things change, the more they are the same. ~ Alphonse Karr ((The original saying & original author.))

New Apple product X is announced. Pundits & analysts say X will fail. X breaks all previous sales records. Step. Rinse. Repeat. ~ Nick Bilton (@nickbilton)

Three years from now, the same people making fun of this thing today will complain that Apple hasn’t innovated since the Watch. ~ Mitchell Cohen (@mitchchn)


Professional critics of new things sound smart, but the logical conclusion of their thinking is a poorer world. ~ Benedict Evans

Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done and why. Then do it. ~ Robert A. Heinlein

I have not exhausted all of my material, nor have I exhausted all of the stupidity…but I have exhausted myself. Enough. No more Claim Chowder.

It’s possible to fight intolerance, stupidity and fanaticism when they come separately. When you get all three together it’s probably wiser to get out, if only to preserve your sanity. ~ P. D. James

I want to make something perfectly clear. I am not advocating for or against the Apple Watch. That will be addressed in a future article. What I am advocating for is clear thinking.

The creators of Apple Claim Chowder used to be arrogant and obnoxious but ever since the introduction of the Apple Watch just the opposite has been true. Now they’re obnoxious and arrogant. After all, the vast majority of the Claim Chowder cited here, and in my previous 7-part series ((Apple Claim Chowder Series:

1) Introduction
2) Events
3) Killers
4) Cynicism
5) Product
6) Evolutionary Or Revolutionary
7) Business Models)) on Apple Claim Chowder, could easily have been avoided.

Conversation would be much improved by the frequent use of three words: I don’t know. ~ André Maurois

The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions. ~ Claude Levi-Strauss

Never be afraid to sit awhile and think. ~ Lorraine Hansberry


Next time, I’ll look at the design of the Apple Watch and try to pose some of the right questions. Come join me then.

Post Script

If you want to take the chance of having me ridicule you in one of my future articles, be sure to join me on Twitter @johnkirk. I’m looking forward to mocking your acquaintance.

I Shall Now Make My Apple Event Predictions!

I always like to make my predictions AFTER the fact. Improves accuracy. Yet I’m still bound to get a few things wrong.

You can only predict things after they have happened. ~ Eugene Ionesco

Truth be told, I’m working on some massive articles regarding the Apple Event and they’re just not done. I simply haven’t been able to absorb the information yet and I’d rather do it right than do it now.

I’m finding it impossible to keep up with the research in my field” (said every researcher ever throughout history). ~ David Smith (@drs1969)

So I thought I’d fill this week’s column with my quick takes on last Tuesday’s Apple Event.


Surprises? Not So Much.

Lots of leaks. Few surprises.

Sales Projections

Expected sales? AT&T said that iPhone 6 demand was “off the charts” and Apple has confirmed the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus crushed earlier preorder records. So how many are they going to sell?

My official answer to how many iPhones Apple will sell in the holiday quarter— crap tons. ~ Ben Bajarin (@BenBajarin)

Average Sales Price

Apple is selling its base mode iPhone with 16 gigabytes  of storage and its mid-tier iPhone with 64 gigabytes of storage. Further, the iPhone 6 Plus starts $100 higher than all previous iPhone models did before it.

Apple has 10% of handset sales, high-end Android another 10% and the rest of Android a further 40% (& growing). Guess which Apple targeted. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

A weird thing is about to happen. The Average Sales Price of the iPhone is about to go UP! That’ll put a real dent in the “iPhone” is a commodity theory.

The iPhone Is A Commodity Claim Chowder

With all things tech, fused products and commoditization are inevitable markers of the product cycle. The iPhone 5 will be Apple’s last hurrah as competitors increasingly gain ground. ~ Kofi Bofah, Onyx Investments, 29 August 2012

As the mobile phone market increasingly offers more quality phones at a range of price points, Apple now faces a difficult choice. Does it try to remain a premium product-premium price company, or does it dive into the commoditized lower priced arena? Neither choice is very appealing. ~ Bob Chandler, Motley Fool, 2 May 2013

I’m guessing the choice to go premium wasn’t as tough as old Bob here imagined it to be.

Phones and tablets are inevitably following computers into commoditization. ~ Peter Nowak,, 28 January 2013

The iPhone as a commodity. That’s really all Apple’s iStuff is — an enormous and very profitable fad. It’s the Pet Rock of the new millennium. ~ Anders Bylund, Motley Fook, 6 Mar 2012



Here’s a couple of miscellaneous thoughts for you all to chew upon as you wait for me to finish my research and publish my Magnum Opus on the Apple Event:

It’s still a common mistake to see smartphones (and even phones) as a luxury. In fact, their value is inversely proportionate to income. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) 8/15/14

More people on earth have a mobile phone than a street address. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)


There’s been a lot of talk of late about tablets diminishing in importance. I don’t see it that way. To me, phones and tablets are just one big continuum — they’re all tablets. But that’s an article for another day.



Platform building is one of the hardest things in tech. A payment platform requires simultaneous adoption by 1) Banks; 2) Retailers; and 3) Consumers. It took years and years and years for credit cards to finally gain critical mass and they were mocked all along the way.

How do you stop a charging Rhino? You take away its credit card.

And many digital payment schemes have come and gone without consumers even noticing.

Only here’s the thing. Apple makes platform building — the hardest thing in tech — look easy. Take a gander at some of the ads that appeared on the very day of the Pay announcement:




Some people say Apple is late to the NFC party. But until Apple showed up, NFC was a wake, not a party.

It will take years for this to play out, but I believe Apple has already pushed digital payments past the tipping point. Pay is a done deal. Once we’re using our phones (and watches) to make payments, it will change the way retail looks and works forever.

Never underestimate the impact of the law of unexpected consequences. ~ Harvey B. Mackay


On his ‘Critical Path’ podcast, Horace Dediu expressed surprise at Apple’s move from i-everything to -everything branding. I am surprised by his surprise.

iNames, RIP. ~ John Gruber (@gruber)

The “i” Brand was misnamed from the start (not that it matters to a brand). It originally stood for “i”nternet in the iMac and now it’s simply a nonsensical way of knowing it is made by Apple. Apple is moving into an era where they need consumers to know the product or service was made by Apple. “iPay” would have been generic. Pay is anything but generic. The  branding is both a name and a logo and the  will put Apple’s brand in your face — which is right where Apple wants it to be.


Mea Culpa

I thought the Apple Watch would be more of a wrist band, less of watch. I was very concerned about battery life, so I thought the Apple wearable might have no screen. I was wrong.

Apple went the fashion route. Now, the fact Apple made all those fashion hires should have been telling me something. But I wasn’t able to put 2 + 2 together. It’s not the first time I’ve been wrong about Apple and it most certainly won’t be the last.


A lot of the post-Apple Event discussion on the Watch has been around whether Apple provided the “why”. “Why should I buy this?” “Why does this product even exist?” My favorite take on this so far is by Ben Thompson at Stretechery: “APPLE WATCH: ASKING WHY AND SAYING NO“.

I agree with most of Ben’s article but I have some serious issues with a couple of the details. I hope to write a too long article about this in the not terribly distant future.

What’s Next

Here’s a rough outline of the series of articles I’m working on:

  1. The Why Of The Watch
  2. Steve Jobs On Category Creation
  3. Category Mistakes We Makes
  4. Knee Jerk Objections
  5. Lessons Unlearned
  6. Watch Use Cases
  7. Watch User Interface
  8. First Generation Issues
  9. Fashion Issues
  10. Price Issues

All topics are subject to change.

Change is inevitable, except from vending machines. ~ Anonymous

I hope to have the articles done before Watch 2.0 comes on the market in 2016.


Rest assured, the Watch is no hobby. Tim Cook used the “one more thing” line to announce the Watch. He called it the “Next Chapter” in Apple’s story. And it was announced by Tim Cook himself. If the Watch fails to become a category, it won’t be due to any lack of effort on Apple’s part.


Apple’s Wheelhouse

Keep the following in mind. As things get smaller, design matters more. And as design matters more, Apple’s expertise in design matters more.

I love how people say a big company can just ‘get good’ at design – they’d never say that about search or AI or big data in the same way. ~ Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans)

Further, as things get more personal, fashion matters more. And fashion is an alien concept to most tech companies (and to most tech observers, like you and me). Apple is way, way ahead of most companies in design. And they seem to have “stolen a march” on most companies when it comes to fashion, too. Apple’s wearable products will never achieve mass adoption. However, Apple seems willing to settle for massive admiration (and massive profits) instead.

The most expensive Apple Watch will cost more than the most expensive iPhone which will cost more than most PCs. ~ Horace Dediu (@asymco)

Claim Chowder, Redux

Finally, I’ll end with some delicious claim chowder. Enjoy!

I was talking recently to someone who knew Apple well, and I asked him if the people now running the company would be able to keep creating new things the way Apple had under Steve Jobs. His answer was simply ‘no.’ I already feared that would be the answer. I asked more to see how he’d qualify it. But he didn’t qualify it at all. No, there will be no more great new stuff beyond whatever’s currently in the pipeline. ~ Paul Graham, March 2012

(W)hy are people losing their faith in the money-making machine that is Apple? Maybe it’s because they’ve done it all. What is there left for Apple to do? ~ ~ Emily Knapp, Wall St Cheat Sheet, 24 May 2011