The moment is here. The widely-anticipated Apple Watch has finally arrived on store shelves. The wearable gadget is similarly reminiscent of the iPhone but marketed as a fashion item rather than another techie craze. The device is not sold in Apple stores just yet and instead only available at a handful of elitist boutiques around the world. The watch is met with awe and skepticism as many experts debate the need among consumers for such a gadget. The product officially started shipping today, with a starting price of $349 and reaching as high as $17,000 if you want it in gold. The main attraction for this wearable is the fitness feature that helps exercise gurus accurately track their activity throughout the day. While the watch does offer some interesting features, the question really begged is what is the draw for this item? Despite fitness-tracking and the wearable convenience of essentially a phone tied to your wrist, what is the real reason why the average consumer would decide a pricey watch is a necessity?
Apple is known for turning a purely blah product into the latest must-have. The iPhone and iPad were initially met with hesitancy and now almost everyone owns both products. Historically this proves that while some might be saying now “What could I possibly need a smart watch for?”, in a few years we might all be walking around with wearables.
The Apple Watch (and frankly all Apple products) go beyond groundbreaking technology because what they really represent in our society has more to do with status and conformity. Today if I were to walk outside and see a person who wasn’t using a smart phone or knew someone who didn’t have an Instagram account (or even worse, Facebook), I would rather judgmentally find them odd or abnormal — there is just something uncomfortably dated about seeing a person not use a touch screen. Our modern culture prides ourselves on our individuality and progressive attitudes. The current hipster identity was founded on the idea of self-expression and rejecting the norm. Yet now that hipster culture has gone mainstream so everyone and their sister dresses in the same skinny jeans and blazers. Ironically we talk about being different but ultimately follow the crowd and the iPhone acutely demonstrates our full embrace of conformity. We are tricked into believing we need something when we slowly realize everyone else has it. We fall back into childhood tendencies and just don’t want to feel left out.
And even more, our desire to fit in rejects our own principles of adopting progressive attitudes. Eco-friendly and fair trade are huge right now, but like with individuality we are all talk. Even the most conscious consumer owns an iPhone and iPad fully ignoring the environmental destruction and human rights abuses Apple itself has on its record.
The Apple Watch is finally on sale today, and while right now most of us might not rush out to purchase our very own wearable when we already have an iPhone, if Apple has taught us anything about consumerism it's that we are bound to fall for the latest trend.