It’s disappointing to see many of my favorite Apple bloggers devote so much of their time to Apple Watch Edition gossip. How much of it is going to be solid gold? Will it be $5000, $10000, $15000? How much of them will Apple sell in their first quarter? Will they be a hit with the rich and powerful in China?
My question is: why in the least bit should us techies care? Sure — catering to the unfathomably well-off will make an impact on Apple’s fortunes in the long run, and spinning out into a fashion brand might make the company grow at an even more breakneck pace. But I was under the impression that we were Apple fans in the first place because they made best-in-breed products for everyone, not just the elite.
We loved our iPods and iPhones for their sleek design and smooth UI, even when people dismissed them as “expensive toys”. We knew our $2000 laptops were incredible for the price, even while people mocked us for not buying cheap, creaky Windows machines. When Android and Windows users poked fun at our platforms for lacking in free tools, we lauded the benefits of carefully crafted, paid-up-front software. We let our Apple logos shine bright because we were proud to be affiliated with one of the few companies that seemed philosophically bent on setting a new standard for mass-market products.
There’s a good reason why the tech community might have a “shit-fit” if Apple enters the realm of $10000 watches and $2000 bands. Gruber’s word choice makes it sound like a juvenile reaction by the fashion-unconscious. But that’s just the thing. We’re geeks. We believe in the intrinsic value of things. We’ve always made fun of name-dropping headphones and $1000 shirts when the quality couldn’t match the hype. Apple taught many of us that there’s more to the price of an item than just the cost of materials; design can be worth a lot, too. But we’ve been adamant for years that we bought Apple products because they were good, not because they were fashionable. And now, with the Beats acquisition and these gold-encased watches, Apple is showing signs that they no longer want to be bound by intrinsic value.
Conspicuous consumption? Veblen goods? Roped-off areas in Apple stores? Is this is what the indie Mac community is going to talk about now?
An Apple that sells “bling” to billionaires is not a company that many of us could muster any passion about. Maybe Woz had the right idea all along.
March 8, 2015