From John Herrman’s Apple Used to Know Exactly What People Wanted — Then It Made a Watch:
Four years and millions of sales later, the Apple-Watch-as-iPhone-antidote pitch remains, as do its use cases as fitness and health devices. More important is what hasn’t yet happened. Whether by accident or by design, the watch has so far been immune to the runaway success that redefined the iPhone…
As Apple continues its institutional struggle to conceive of what the Apple Watch is, or could be, in the imaginations of its customers, it’s worth remembering that Apple’s stated commitment to privacy is, in practice, narrow. The competitors that Cook likes to prod about their data-exploitative business models have a necessary and complicit partner in his company, having found many of their customers though Apple’s devices and software.
This is especially relevant as Apple casts about for ideas elsewhere. Apple has already met with the insurance giant Aetna about ways in which the company might use Apple Watches to encourage healthier — and cheaper — behavior in its tens of millions of customers. John Hancock, one of the largest life insurers in America, said after Apple’s latest announcement that it would offer all its customers the option of an interactive policy, in which customers would get discounts for healthy habits, as evidenced by data from wearable devices. Here we see the vague outlines of how the Apple Watch could become vital, or at least ubiquitous, as the handmaiden to another data-hungry industry.
My take: Cheap shot. No, two cheap shots. First, “immune to the runaway success” of the iPhone is a description that could fit every new device—not just Apple’s—introduced since 2007. Second, if I decide to trade the biometric data from my watch for a cheaper insurance rate, creepy as that sounds, I’ll do it with my eyes open. That’s not quite the same as what Google and Facebook do with my data behind my back.