I've been waiting for this moment for a few weeks now.
I made a snap judgement when I first tried the Watch, and it seems to be proving my theory with each passing day. The Sport model is too delicate for me and you can't swim with it; the display is too small and made me squint too much. I never looked forward to using it. I hated that it was yet another gadget I had to charge each and every day. I don't even wear it anymore. I don't even like how it looks.
Since its release on April 24, I've (ahem) watched and waited to see how the story unfolds. I didn't want to make any overly bold predictions, but I felt something in my gut that said this was going to be a fail. Honestly, I just don't think people care about a watch.
I had to give it the old college try. I tested a few apps, squinted at the screen, and wondered why the early reviewers were so extremely positive. I felt tempted to write one of those "top business app" round-ups, even though I couldn't really find any top business apps. I knew something was seriously wrong when I went to an Apple store at the Mall of America and noticed how no one seemed too interested. It was a ghost town.
Part of the issue is that the Watch is an ancillary device. It's an augmenter to the iPhone. This comes at a time when the wearable industry is trying to find it's place in the world-and on your body. I used to wear the Fitbit Charge band until I realized it was more like a dog tag than a helpful device for tracking my activity. (I now use the less conspicuous FitBit One clip-on.) The Watch felt too optional. It's a device that doesn't change your day as much as it complicates your day.
And now, the other shoe has dropped. Last week, Vanessa Friedman wrote about her "break up" with the Watch. A research firm called UserTesting found that most people don't like it. Apple hasn't released data about unit sales or returns, but many reports are now suggesting people are returning the Watch within the 14-day return period. It's officially a dud. I'd hate to be one of those proud owners of a $17,000 dud.
How did this happen?
I have an answer. Apple didn't do enough homework.
Here's the problem.
Apple should have done some augmentation with the Watch, but it seems to be the whole point. I wanted features that are absolutely indispensable. While you can talk to the Watch and ask about the weather or start a phone call, you can't engage in a discussion-you have to use your iPhone for that. You can ask for directions to your next meeting, but the map app is so slow (it takes several seconds before you can even start getting directions) and the Watch dims so often to save on battery life, it's much easier to just use your phone. Most apps are too slow. The Watch vibrates constantly. At least the Samsung Galaxy Gear had a funky camera on the wrist strap. At least the LG Urbane is an oval.
What's much more troubling though is that Apple didn't invent brand new features for the Watch. It doesn't really do anything totally new, unless you count drawing a smiley face and sending it to a friend. Even the Digital Crown is dumb. It pretends to be a Home button but isn't. In fact, there isn't a "home" pat all, there's an app screen and a watch face screen. The interface is confusing, but it is supposed to be a "in the moment" device anyone can use. My wife tried one and gave up after two minutes.
The one-day battery life is abysmal. The screen is fuzzy. It's too much of a trend statement for those who want to earn some bragging rights at a meeting. It doesn't really change how I work, how I stay on contact with others, or improve my day. It's a hindrance.
And guess what? I was just describing the Newton. The Apple Watch is going to be remembered as a failure that never really changed our work lives for the better.