ever been the victim of a bad date and watched the person seated across from you constantly check their watch as time slows to a crawl and neither of you are willing to just throw in the towel and leave? ok, maybe you never experienced this firsthand if you’re under 30 years old, but i’m sure you’ve seen it on TV or in a movie from your parents’ age.
and that’s the unintentional issue with any smart watch. the social stigma of looking at one’s watch repeatedly. granted, the wrist watch has become less commonplace as cellphones have become ubiquitous as they all feature some form of timekeeping on the display. in the past 10 years as cellphone ownership has grown, the common use of wrist watches have decreased and have essentially become a first-world symbol of wealth. the rest of us have carried on without a need for watches without even noticing.
as cellphones have grown in everyday usage along comes the issue of etiquette. our general inability or fear of confronting the few who use their phones outside of acceptable norms has resulted in large parts of our population becoming distracted by their devices during times where their attention should be focused elsewhere. how many of you have been stuck in a grocery store checkout line, waiting as the person at the front continues to talk on their phone rather than pay and leave? once they’ve left, instead of focusing on the potentially deadly act of driving, they continue their conversation? yes, you have the right to do as you please, but that right ends where another person’s right to live begins. proper etiquette, in a perfect world, would prevent this from being the daily nuisance it’s become, but alas it is these people that ensure a perfect world is constantly beyond our grasp.
the solution is to create a format that limits the interactions with our phones and manufacturers have been working on this for a few years now. smartwatches have been on the fringes for a few years and Apple has chosen recently to give the whole idea some legitimacy with the release of the Apple Watch. they believe the solution lies in “quick glances,” removing you from your social situations for the least amount of time possible and reducing interaction with your phone. until Apple, the sector was less than niche. Apple’s new watch, and popularity, will reveal the problem overlooked by trying to create a wrist-based solution. maybe those involved in the idea of a smart watch are too young to know firsthand what it means to constantly look at your watch in a social situation. ignorance or not, the fatal flaw of a watch-based format is about to be recognized on a very large scale.
Apple may have successfully gotten the attention of the fashion world, necessary to achieve mainstream acceptance of a watch from a tech company, but it could disappear as quickly as it arrived. overcoming the stigma of the calculator watch from the 80’s is one obstacle, amongst many, a smart watch must overcome to succeed, but the sight of your date constantly looking at their watch from across the table is what will kill it. overcoming decades of social stigma may prove impossible for the smart watch format to succeed, even for the world’s biggest tech company.