Sex + Apple Watch: Why it will Fail
Designed with distraction in mind, Apple’s latest product falls flaccid
Product design has always been emotional. There’s not a brand in the world that doesn’t want their community of consumers to “love” their product; to become “obsessed” with using it. The gray twilight of indifference is the kiss of death for consumer brands. I cringe when I hear “it does the job” or “it’s alright but I wish it ___”. It’s better to be hated, at least then you’re a part of the conversation!
News that isn’t news: people love Apple. They lust and obsess over new Apple products and each iterative generation thereof, and that’s why we’re seeing this fiendish craving for the apple watch. The catch is, this is a new space for Apple.
If you think designing static hardware easily translates to to fashion, just ask Google (RIP Glass). I wouldn’t be surprised that 2–5 years from now we see a completely different incarnation of the Apple wearable- hopefully even sooner.
Everything adored Apple has made in the past does not live on your person (though for some of us, our phones may as well be embedded in our hands or attached to our ears — which is what the watch actually represents). The trusted Apple logic is considerably less relevant when you consider that this is the first “accessory” they’ve done.
The Apple watch will be even more distracting than our current connectivity-obsessed situation. It’s tiny and always on. At least a phone can be put away, turned on silent, and forgotten about in important meetings. There are moments in life when a phone is considered “rude” that help self govern this. A watch is something that stays on you, from morning til night, in your personal and most private moments.
Phones have always interrupted sex. The Apple Watch makes the phone inescapable, acting as an extension of your body.
Can you imagine having an iMessage appear on your wrist in the heat of the moment? Or a call-triggered picture of your ex popping up while you’re on the rebound date; let alone in bed with one? Yeesh. You could argue that we haven’t identified this as a problem with other smart watches on the market, and I’d remind you that none of them have really sold in mass, let alone at the scale that Apple’s brand loyalty will drive.
The wearables that win will be effortless. They won’t be distracting. They won’t interrupt our moments, but rather be there to capture them when we want to preserve them forever. This is one of the reasons I like up and comer Kapture Audio. Their wearable has one function: record audio 24/7, constantly deleting audio that’s not saved via a simple tactile tap. Kapture means when grandma drops her epic wisdom or baby says his first words, there’s no screen in-between you and the moment. No push notification stealing your attention. A simple tap on your wrist saves the audio of that precious moment without you ever having to leave it (it uploads to your phone for use or listening at a time when you’re better suited to deal with a device).
Companies need to stop trying to pull us out of the world and starting thinking about what they can do to augment, compliment and enhance our experiences. Products that work with your lifestyle and brands that understand the need to be present in the world, are the future. Less really is more. It’s hard to make small form hardware sexy, and even the best accessory or piece of jewelry isn’t one that’s worn every day. Stop distracting and start designing.
There are enough cables in our lives, something Apple just assumes we’ll put up with because their hardware is beautiful. This is why I love the Misfit Shine. It is battery operated and only has to be ‘thought about’ every six months. It’s small, thin, can be worn in a variety of form factors and doesn’t distract the wearer or the people around them while in use. This is more on point with the future.
Having to say, “I feel fat so I’m tracking my steps to try and lose weight,” feels great! Said no one ever. People are curious about our wearables and the assumption that we want to show everyone that we’re quantifying something about ourselves is false. We want to know what we want to know without the world having to know, and this right to privacy is one we should have. Technically it’s historically been a challenge, as component sizes weren’t originally designed to be worn, but now demand is driving scale, and scale driving miniaturization. Hooray for less ugly.
Women out buy men in every single consumer category except for consumer electronics. Why? Because hardware is designed for men, by men. By in large, this has been the story for wearables as well. No woman feels elegant in dress accessorized by black silicone wrapped around her wrists. There are exceptions to this sweeping stereotype, however, that should give us all hope.
There is hope for both feminine consumer electronics and wearables. Three standouts in space come to mind. The first two, Ringly and Cuff- make femme-forward smart jewelry. Granted they’re still a bit clunky, but they’ve got the right idea. The other company that took a lot of heat for going down this path but is actually quite inspiring is Intel. Their smart bracelet needs a bit of fine tuning, but it was the first concerted effort from a fortune 100 brand to design wearables that appeal to women.
Disrupt the buying patterns in the wearables space by actually looking at where the market opportunity is, and you will win. Period (no pun intended). I’m proud of the companies already doing this, and excited to see what they, and others bring us next.
Leave all your electronics outside the bedroom tonight and see if enhances the intimacy you share with your partner. I dare you.