On April 24, Apple’s latest gadget will be available for sale. Their smartwatch will put the hurt on your wallet to the tune of at least $349, and if you happen to be made of money, you can buy the solid gold version for a cool $10,000. While the Apple faithful have already set aside their regular tithe to their silvery master, many, many more have yet to see a need to invest in this bit of technology. Believe it or not, smartwatches have existed in some form for decades but essentially have languished in relative obscurity until 2013, when most major consumer electronics companies began to openly develop and market wearable technology. Even still, most Americans scorned the earliest progenitors of today’s smartwatch, primarily because of clunky design and poor integration with existing phones. But can Apple turn nerd fashion into the new hotness? If anyone can, Apple can, but they still have some hurdles to clear.
Before you buy one, ask yourself a hard question: Do you need one, or do you want one?
Make no mistake, even the $10k Apple watch is no Rolex. In terms of long-lasting value, it may not even measure up to a more humble Seiko or Timex. Whereas a decent quality “regular ole watch” will continue to function for decades or more, your smartwatch is likely to be much less useful in less than 2-3 years, and might actually be end of life in five, much like today’s smartphones. And let’s “face” it, smartwatches are huge on the average wrist, and if you have delicate bone structure, your wrist is going to look like this millennium’s Flavor Flav. For most folks, this is a fashion don’t, Apple shiny or no.
For reasons why you might “need” a smartwatch, consider how you use your smartphone. For the on the go professional, especially those that keep their smartphone in a bag or deep pocket, being able to see who’s calling or texting without having to dig for your phone could be very useful. For someone like me who frequently has both hands tied up with handfuls of computer guts (figuratively and sometimes literally), being able to quickly glance at my wrist is infinitely more convenient than stopping what I’m doing to fetch my phone. For the physically active among us, Apple’s fitness tracking capabilities have some promise, especially if it means eliminating a less versatile device from our daily carry. To top it off, the promise of Siri literally being your right hand (or left) may be sufficient to cement this deal.
If the promises of this last paragraph overshadow the drawbacks of the preceding one, you may be able to graduate your “want” to “need” with minimal guilt. Don’t kid yourself – you are doubling your technology gadget tax by investing in this latest trend. At best, you may be able to alternate upgrading your smartphone and smartwatch each year, but until they can figure out how to cram everything we’ve come to love about our smartphones into an elegant watch or snazzy (and surreptitious) sunglasses, you’ll need both to take your geek chic to the next level. And here’s the real gotcha of nerd high-fashion: last year’s models are soooo passé.