Why Millions Will Buy an Apple Watch They Don't Really Need
Apple touched on these features (pun intended) during its big March 9 announcement, but didn't drive home the point that I am talking about, which is the compelling, even addictive nature of these user interface elements used in concert. The Apple Watch is a body part, not a possession Smartphone users experience "phantom vibration syndrome," when people feel their smartphone vibrating in a pocket only to discover that the phone isn't there. The reason for this is that over time the sensation becomes hardwired into memory, a memory which is rewarded by the message or information that follows the buzzing.Humans are naturally attracted (and can become addicted) to multi-touch user interfaces—or, for that matter, bubble wrap, snowboarding and playing video games—because the combination of sights, sounds, tactical experiences thrills our brains, releasing dopamine, which itself is a mildly intoxicating and addictive drug. It's astounding to see how addicted people have become to their phones. The Apple Watch will be even more addicting, because by being lashed to the wrist, it becomes part of you. Another touch feedback loop will be provided courtesy of the Apple Watch's Force Touch feature. The Apple Watch screen can tell how hard you're pressing the screen, which will enable applications to respond to how you touch the screen with specific visuals (thicker lines when you press harder, for example), sounds and haptic sensations. The Apple watch doesn't suddenly give you capabilities you never had before, for the most part. It moves many of the things you do with an iPhone (if you use an iPhone) to the watch. This aspect shouldn't be underestimated. Some users will nearly stop using their iPhones completely, doing everything on the Apple Watch, including making phone calls. While critics slam the Apple Watch as an unnecessary duplication of some iPhone functionality, it's more accurate from a psychological or experiential perspective to look at the iPhone and Apple Watch together as a new platform. That's a more accurate way to understand the entire wearables revolution. Eventually, you'll be able to have a smartwatch, smart glasses, smart clothing, smart shoes, and they'll all work in concert, with or without a centrally-controlling smartphone. You become the computer or, if you like, your physical self is enhanced by the technology (as opposed to the idea that you "have" or "carry" technology). If wearables are nothing more than independent gadgets, then the wearables revolution isn't worth showing up for. This is the fundamental reality that Apple seems to understand better than its competitors. Wearable computing isn't about being necessary or making you more efficient or productive. It's about enhancing your body in a way that thrills. Apple announced this week that the cheapest Apple Watch will cost $349 and the most expensive one will cost $17,000. Realistically, I think the sweet spot version is between these extremes. The mid-range Apple Watch (with stainless steel and sapphire) will cost between $549 and $1,099, depending on size and band. That cost is in addition to the required iPhone. If the Apple Watch were merely something people need it would be a lot cheaper. But like all the over-priced things in our lives, the Apple Watch is something that makes us feel good, and that's why we'll buy it. So as we argue about the merits and benefits of the Apple Watch, let's save a lot of time by dispensing with the false "nobody needs it" argument. Of course nobody needs the Apple Watch.
Likewise, the Apple Watch's combination of vibration alerts with the sights and sounds that go with them, will be mapped into the minds of Apple Watch users, and become something their minds expect, enjoy and even crave.