The Apple Reality Distortion Field at Work: the iWatch Created the Smartwatch Market

FeatureGraphic_RealityDistortionField[1]In all the time that I have been writing about gadgets I have never ceased to be amazed by Apple’s reality distortion field.

Last October I documented an example of the RDF in a blogger who was convinced that scrolling in iBooks 3.0 was the most original idea EVAR, and today I have an example of an even worse case. There is a blogger that is so completely under the influence of Apple’s reality distortion field that he believes Apple is responsible for creating the smartwatch market simply by planning to launch an iWatch.

Mike Elgan, writing over at Cult of Mac:

I’ve notice a new trend lately: Now markets are being created based substantially on nothing more than the expectation that Apple will enter it with a killer product.

For example, Acer, AGENT, Androidly, Cookoo, Dell, EmoPulse, Foxconn, GEAK, Google, I’m Watch, Intel, Kreyos, LG, Martian, Metawatch, Microsoft, Pebble, Qualcomm, Rearden Technology, Samsung, Sonostar, Sony, Toshiba and Vachen are all in, will be in or will probably be in the smartwatch market, which has struggled for years to get off the ground as a mainstream category.

Why the sudden embrace by so many major companies? I think the reason is that everyone expects Apple to enter it, and by doing so create it. You’ll notice that the majority of press about smartwatches is about a rumored “iWatch” from Apple — a phantom product that Apple hasn’t announced or even discussed significantly in public.

It’s an interesting premise, but it completely falls apart once you actually start looking at the facts. Just a basic timeline for when the existing smartwatch models were launched reveals that they could not have been influenced by iWatch rumors.

Leaving aside the fact that some of the names listed are only vaguely rumored to be working on a smartwatch (Microsoft, Google, and Dell, for example), there are also several smartwatches that existed long before even the first rumor that Apple was working on an iWatch.

For example, the Motorola MotoACTV debuted in October 2011. Sony released their smartwatch in January 2012, and that was when the I’m Watch was officially launched. And then there is the SonyEricsson LiveView, which launched in November 2010, or the precursor to the Pebble, which was shipped in limited quantities in early 2010.

Three of those smartwatches had to have been under development in mid-2011, and the LiveView even earlier. That presents a problem for Elgan’s theory.

The thing is, there were no rumors in 2011 that Apple was working on a smartwatch (not that I can find in Google, anyway). For much of 2011 the only iWatch gossip I could find came from fanboys wishing Apple would release an iWatch, not anyone discussing a rumor that the iWatch was under development.

In fact. the earliest development rumor I can find dates to December 2011. And that wasn’t even a product rumor; it was a rumor about research projects:

Apple has also experimented with prototype products that could relay information back to the iPhone. These conceptual products could also display information on other Apple devices, like an iPod, which Apple is already encouraging us to wear on our wrists by selling Nanos with watch faces.

Elgan would have you believe that 5 different companies invested in smartwatches based on rumors that no one in the tech blogosphere had reported on.

Sorry, but that just doesn’t make any sense.

At this point the idea is clearly bunk, but just in case you’re still wondering let me point out the best example yet:


As you probably know, this smartwatch was funded via Kickstarter in April 2012 (based on tech that dates back to early 2010). And as you probably also know, Pebble went that route because they couldn’t generate enough interest among capital investors.

Elgan would have you believe that companies were investing in the smartwatch market in anticipation of Apple releasing the iWatch, so why did Pebble have so much trouble getting investors interested?

That, folks, is the only point I need raise to debunk Elgan. It shows that he is so swept up in the reality distortion field that he can’t think straight anymore. He apparently believes that Apple is so amazing that they can control time and space and have an effect on markets long before any products launch or even any rumors circulate.

Crazy, I know, but that’s the Apple reality distortion field at work.

image via XDA Forums

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Bob W28 July, 2013

    You haven’t convinced me that he’s wrong. Everything I’ve seen is that under 30’s aren’t wearing watches any more, they have a cell phone and don’t see the point. There have been attempts at smartwatches for years but they aren’t exactly flying off the shelf and I don’t know anyone that wears one. I’ve been wondering the same thing as Mike Elgan, why the interest by so many companies on entering this market other then the hype around the rumoured iWatch?

    I remember when the 6th generation iPod Nano was announced in Sept 2010 Steve Jobs said that prior to launch he showed it to the board and some of them were comparing it to the size of their watches and said you could put straps on it and make a watch. I’ve been reading speculation about the iWatch ever since and it really took off after the 7th generation Nano came out that was larger then the 6th gen and left a gap in the product line for a smaller device.

    There were a lot of MP3 players prior to the iPod but you have to admit that Apple really built and dominated that market. A lot of people though that Apple was crazy for entering the smart phone market but they were very successful at it. There were a lot of tablets prior tot he iPad and so far Apply really built and dominated the market. I don’t see a reality distortion field here, I see a company that has had major success and generates a lot of market hype and speculation which seems to have a life of it’s own.

    1. Nate Hoffelder28 July, 2013

      Sorry, but you can’t even frame the Elgan’s idea without revealing that is under the effect of the reality distortion field. The very premise grants Apple a ridiculous amount of influence and it needs to be proven first. Elgan has yet to prove it, and I offered enough data to show he’s wrong.

      And frankly, i don’t have to prove him wrong. I only have to show that he is under the influence of the RDF and that is easy to do. His list includes companies that could not have been influenced by Apple and companies only rumored to be working on a smartwatch, and Elgan gives Apple credit for inspiring both groups. That is nonsense.

      If nothing else, the fact that Elgan framed the rumors as fact shows muddled thinking on his part and should be enough to discredit him.

      The thing about rumors is that they have nothing to do with the companies mentioned in them. Gadget rumors are entirely an aspect of the blogopshere and often have absolutely no connection with what is really going on.

      P.S. That 6th gen iPod Nano could have inspired a few smartwatches, I will admit. And it probably also inspired the fanboy wish fulfillment posts. But there were no iWatch rumors in early 2011, just fanboy wishing for an iWatch. That’s not the same thing, and to give Apple credit for fanboys wishes is simply nonsense.

  2. fjtorres28 July, 2013


    1- There is *no* smartwatch market. Companies and hackers have been tryng to create one since before Microsoft released SPOT and the result is still no market. And if there is no market then nobody has created anything.

    2- There is no evidence Apple is actually *planning* a smartwatch. There is a lot of rumormongering by wishful thinkers and tea leaf readers based on skimpy evidencce tat Apple has looked into the idea. Just as every other electronics company on the planet has looked at it. It is called due dillience. Unless you’re fat dumb and lazy you are always on the lookout for possibilities. But if you think that exploratory design studies equal “plans” then you think NASA is “planning” a warp drive.

    3- The biggest evidence that Apple is *not* planning a smartwatch is the fact that nobody is making money at it yet. Apple is not now nor have they ever been a pioneer boldly going where no one has gone before. Rather their usiness model has always been to keep an eyee on the true pioneers and once the pioneers show there is a market and show what the issues are with that market *the* Apple jumps in. Sometimes they miscalculate and jump in early and end up with turkeys like Lisa and Apple TV and sometimes they jump in late and embarrass themselves (apple III, Pippin, iBooks) but most of the time they get into the existing market just as it is ready to bloom; Apple II, Macintosh, iPod, iPhone. But smartwatches are nowhhere near where MP3 players were in 2001, much less smartphones in 2007.

    Finally, the odds of a successful smartwatch market emerging that Apple would *want* to play in because most of what the smartwatch could possibly do is already part of what smartphones do so the most likely niche for one would be as an entry-level gadget for the Timex crowd or a diamond-studded piece of jewelry for the Tiffanys crowd. The former would be too cheap for Apple’s pricing and the latter too few.

    Right now, instead of a watch, the best bet for wearable electronics is in either clothing (and the tech isn’t there yet) or eyeglass frames (and Google is there, hyping the idea to heck and back.)

    1. Nate Hoffelder28 July, 2013

      If there’s no market then what the Hell are Pebble, Sony, and i”m Watch doing with their products? It sure seems to me that devices are being sold to customers. If that’s not a market then I don’t know what is.

      1. fjtorres28 July, 2013

        They’re tests, just as Microsoft’s SPOT.
        To have a market you need buyers in *quantity*, no?
        Weren’t you recently arguing (correctly to me) that the Sony Librie wasn’t the beginning of the modern ebook market? 😉

        You remember the Audrey?
        Sony’s eVilla?

        Plenty of gadgets make it to retail and fail to establish a new product category.
        Just marketting a product for a while does not make for a market.
        Let’s see where Pebble is six months from now. A year from now.

        1. Nate Hoffelder28 July, 2013

          So what’s Pebble? Are they the sacrificial penguin that the rest of the colony shoved into the water to see if there are any killer whales around?

          1. fjtorres28 July, 2013

            A brave explorer. Might turn out to be Columbus, might be Hernando de Soto.

            You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their back. Which is why Apple wants nothing to do with true–non-RDF–exploration.

            Think about it: with Wall Street angsting over Apple’s next “big thing”, what if the iWatch is anything short of a homerun?
            They don’t have the stomach for that kind of risk to their myth

    2. DavidW29 July, 2013

      Bull, there is a smartwatch market. I have a coworker that has a smartwatch. And she is no techie beta tester, she is a French teacher. You should just admit that you’re wrong and move on.

      1. fjtorres29 July, 2013

        Lots of folks bought Audreys, too.
        No market materialized.

        You can buy all sorts of oddball gadgets but that doesn’t mean there is anything like an actual market for each and every toy.
        A market requires volume and competition and it lasts.


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