This week saw pricing details released about the new Apple Watch after months – if not years – of rumours, hints and announcements. At first blush it looks pretty bulky. The battery life is acceptable but not fantastic. You need to link it to your iPhone to get full use out of it. And if you have an Android phone, you’re out of luck.
Of course, new versions will come along. We tend to think of the tech revolution as being driven by software and the web. Snapchat follows Facebook which supplants Bebo which succeeds Friends Reunited. Microsoft 365 replaces Exchange. Reaching back into prehistory, Excel succeeds Lotus 1-2-3, which quietly died last year. There’s a continuous churn of innovation and competition, to the benefit of the user.
But what about hardware? Again, we’re all familiar with the evolution of iPod-iPhone-iPad. Each generation is better than the last. It’s what we’ve come to expect.
Surprisingly, perhaps, the same dynamic applies to more humble devices. Take the electric shaver, for example, a pretty mundane piece of kit on the face of it. I recently bought a new one, expecting essentially a like-for-like replacement for the one I’ve had a few years. I was genuinely surprised to find it was much, much better. The new model is faster, quieter and lighter. It works better. It’s more comfortable to use. And it cost less too! (Some of) the same forces driving tech innovation are behind this unexpected improvement. If only the battery life had improved as quickly …
So where does that leave us with fancier kit like smartwatches? Specifically, what should we all do about wristwear? Wait until the Apple Watch 2 comes along, is the answer.
© Patrick Macdonald 2015