Developers can't seem to figure out what to do with the Apple Watch.
It's depressing. There's nothing quite like the dark cloud that rolls in over a product that can't seem to find any traction, and there's nothing quite like a product that has no truly useful apps. Forget the killer app, the Apple Watch doesn't really have any innovative apps, at least the kind that make you want to keep your phone stashed away. A grocery list app? Yet another fitness app? Boring.
There's no app that makes you think--this is the reason I need a smartwatch right now. You can pay for things with Apple Pay on the Watch, but it's just as easy to pay with your iPhone (or a Samsung). You can track your steps, but FitBit has a corner on that market with devices that last much, much longer.
And, it gets worse. According to a recent analyst report, we won't be seeing the inevitable Apple Watch 2 anytime soon. This year, the current model will likely get a few tweaks. That pulls the oxygen out of the room for developers who might be hopeful that a new app will become a big hit on a new model. They're smart enough to see a lull in the market. As Steve Wozniak recently pointed out, Apple seems to be content making different bands for the current model.
What went wrong? When I bought the Apple Watch originally and then, some time later, received a review unit for a second test, I couldn't get over the fact that the interface is just too microscopic. Tiny icons crawling in a circle on the screen, no thanks. Lasts only one day on a charge? That's not going to work for me. The Watch is also way too expensive; at $299, it's about twice as much as other models.
It's not surprising that people don't even know how to use it, or that Jeb Bush didn't realize he could use it to answer phone calls. When a device is hard to use, we tend to see it as superfluous. It starts to collect dust. When a device provides some great new utility, it's a must-own. Apple never really figured out how to make the Watch so indispensable and useful that everyone needed one.
Ironically, the smartwatch market is not the culprit here. I'm testing a Fossil Q watch right now that doesn't do much of anything other than A) last for several days B) looks cool and C) tracks my steps. That's about all I need it to do. Oh, and it tells the time, using large numbers. When I was wearing the Apple Watch during my testing period, no one seemed to notice. Oh, Apple Watch, cool. They seemed to pick up on the fact that this was just another Apple gadget. WIth the Fossil Q, people always seem to comment--the watch just looks attractive and unusual.
That's why it's time to stick a fork in the Apple Watch. It never changed the world. It never changed how we work during the day, offered some incredibly new productivity-enhancing features, or became part of the cultural fabric. It buzzed and chimed, tracked and monitored, but so many other devices already do that. It was the first big failure from a company that has had a succession of big wins. The iPhone is about to reach 1B units in sales this year. The Apple Watch, not so much.
So what do you think? Have you found more apps for the Apple Watch beyond the lame grocery list apps and me-too fitness trackers? Do you think developers should wait around and see what Apple cooks up for the sequel?
Feel free to post your views in comments.