Thursday 11 September 2014

TIME for balanced reporting on timepieces

This article in this week's TIME magazine left me momentarily lost for words.

Apple Watch CoverIt was not the writing itself, or the vague predictions for the future, but simply that it completely ignores the existence of other wearable tech, or at least the online section of the article does, and that's what really matters since it is that version that will be shared around the Web.  (You can read it here:

To read this article you would believe that until Apple's announcement of their Watch, no-one had ever seen wearable technology on the wrist.  There had been no Pebble, no Sony, no Samsung Gear, no LG G Watch R and certainly no Moto 360 (and my apologies to the others I've missed).

Bear in mind we're talking here about a product that hasn't even been released yet, and is not scheduled to be sold until "early" 2015 (and we all know "early" has a very flexible definition).

With the Android OS having held the market share of smartphone devices (as at the time of writing, source: it is hard to believe an article could focus so completely upon a device that not only doesn't currently exist in public, but when released is likely to be useful to a much smaller percentage of that market share.

Consider some of the claims:

"The Apple Watch is just the start.", from the front cover.  Well, it's the start if you considering "the start" to be joining a race long after most of the other major competitors have already run three laps.

"This is new, and slightly unnerving." Again, no it isn't (new - it may be unnerving).  The Pebble was released in January 2013, 18 months ago, but if we want to be true to the idea of "wearable computers on the wrist" we have to go all the way back to 1984, yes, 30 years ago, and the Seiko RC-1000 which, ironically, was compatible with both the Apple II and the IBM-PC.  There have been many other devices built and proposed since then.

"The Apple watch represents a redrawing of the map that locates technology in one place and our bodies in another."  I'm not even sure where to start here.  This comment ignores not only the numerous other wrist devices, but the whole arena of medical technology implanted in the body, prosthetics, pacemakers, et al.  It also ignores the plethora of for-purpose health monitoring equipment that has been strapped to athletes, amateur and professional alike, for countless years.

I am usually largely immune to the whole Apple bandwagon, but it would have been so simple to have written an article like this that presented a more balanced view of wearable tech and it's disappointing to see it in a magazine I used to trust for that balance and informed opinion.  The Apple Watch, when it's eventually on sale, I have no doubt will be a very fine piece of technology, but please remember that it's not the first such device, not revolutionary, and really doesn't redraw any boundaries that weren't redrawn towards the end of the last century.

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