Wearable fudge: What is Apple hiding?


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In another sign of waning innovation at Apple, the company predictably announced its quarterly results this week, just like it does every quarter.

Seriously, Apple, we’ve seen you announce quarterly results. How about announcing a quarter and a half? A quarter and a half of results, the phablet of quarterly results. That’s the kind of innovation tech industry watchers crave.

Writing for Quartz, Mike Murphy doesn’t believe the fake news.

“Apple’s wearables business is huge, if you buy Apple’s fudged definition of wearables.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Chris Domico and Philip Speicher.)

And by “fudged definition”, Murphy means that Apple defines “wearables” as “things that you wear”. So much rich, gooey fudging. This is a definition that is likely to give you diabetes. Augustus Gloop fell into this definition because he just couldn’t help himself. This is a definition that positively demands it be followed by a musical number by some Oompa Loompas.

On today’s earnings call, Cook told investors that Apple’s wearable technology business is comparable to the size of a Fortune 500 company, which would seem to imply that the Apple Watch is thriving…

But we know that can’t be true, otherwise all the dissing we did of the Watch would look kind of silly.

But Cook said that comparison also includes Apple’s AirPods and its Beats headphones.

Things you can wear! What the…?! Look, if you’re going to start including things you wear in your definition of things that you wear… well, then, sir, we cannot have a healthy, open discussion as adults about how bad your results really were.

Good day to you, sir.

I said “good day”!

Though you might be able to stretch the definition of “wearables” to cover AirPods — they have processing power greater than a first-generation iPhone, and you can interact with Siri through them…

It’s a stretch because if you take out the things that make them very much computer-powered devices that you wear, they are not at all computer-powered devices that you wear.

Really, if ear-borne devices that provide an easy means of carrying out computer functions can’t be counted as wearables then let’s just ditch the category completely.

…it’s difficult to see how regular Beats headphones could really could be counted as a wearable computer of some sort, other than the fact that you literally have to wear them on your head to use them.

The tech press has no problem counting the Surface, a device that people probably almost exclusively use as a laptop, as a tablet, but God forbid Apple include things you wear in their “wearables” category. The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!

Murphy’s contention, apparently, is that Apple should strip out the Beats headphones that have the W1 chip in them and only include those and AirPods in wearables. Really, Apple, if you could just forward the database of individual product sales to us in a format of our choosing, that would be great. TIA.

By that logic, I tend to put my iPhone in my pocket when I’m out; does that mean it’s also a wearable?

No. It doesn’t Because you’re wearing the pants, not the device.

What are “words”, anyway?

Deliberate obtuseness is not just a river in Egypt, Mike. In fact, it’s not a river in Egypt at all. Look at a map. It is, however, what you’re practicing in this piece.

We should not simply take the numbers — or non-numbers — any tech company passes us without giving them a critical eye. And, yeah, Tim Cook was engaging in a bit of marketing by saying Apple’s wearable business alone would be a big company. It also happens to be very true. And when people routinely compare Apple Watch sales to sales of mechanical watches, your category purity test for the computing power of wearables doesn’t really seem that important.

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