Apple Sells Magic, Or Why I’m Buying an Apple Watch

By September 14, 2014 No Comments

Image: Apple

If I asked you point blank, “What does Apple sell?”, you’d probably easily say products. I would immediately and vehemently disagree with you. Well, technically, yes, of course, they sell physical and digital products. But more than anything else, Apple sells magic.

What is magic (bear with me while my mind is temporarily distracted by the wondrous talents of GOB Bluth from Arrested Development…)? It’s unworldly power. Magic is the ability to do things that defy the laws of nature, or at least the laws of convention.

The Apple Watch, in short, is magical. It is imbued with a sense of being “more than”: more than a watch, more than an extension of the iPhone, more than a fitness tracker. There’s something in it that unabashedly excites nerds like me who believe in a certain sort of technological magic and want to be swept away in wonder as we were when children. It sounds like hyperbole, but I feel like I’ve waited all my life for the Apple Watch, ever since I imagined talking into my Dick Tracy wrist communicator toy watch when I was a little kid.

It’s no secret that Apple makes products we’ve always wanted but never knew that we did until we glimpsed them for the first time, which is in itself wizardry. But beyond the design and manufacturing of the physical good, Apple’s magic marketing is the real sorcery.

The Apple Watch product images and videos are transcendent in both their visuals and rhetoric. We are asked, essentially, to believe in the power of the watch. We are asked to believe in the promise never explicitly stated but always lurking just at the edges of the mind: if you buy this, you will be hipper, healthier, more connected in important relationships, and more capable of managing your life. In essence, you will be a better person if you buy this watch. 

Apple marketing, at its core, is always about selling the promise that their product is the bridge between who we are and who we want to be. It’s not just aspirational marketing in the sense of “I want to be rich like the people who have this product” (although its function as a status symbol will be widespread). Any old luxury good can achieve that kind of marketing. I’ll call Apple’s brand of magic marketing “ontological aspirational marketing”, as in, “your very core being will be transformed, for the better, by purchasing this product”.

This is why other tech companies can only dabble around the edges. They never promise complete transformation, only partial. Google Glass is extremely cool technology (though I’d never buy it or wear it), but it only promises to upgrade certain aspects of your life (counting cards at casinos, for one). It will always be an add-on technology. This is why Apple hammered home the “personal” nature of the Watch repeatedly – they want it to become a part of your very person, of who you are.

They’ve even harnessed the fear of “missing out” to ensure that you never take it off (well, only at night, to charge it): if you don’t wear it, your health won’t be tracked. What’s that? You’re going to keep wearing your Fitbit? Not likely. It’s ugly.

I will buy the Apple Watch as soon as I possibly can because I want to believe in its power to make me a better person. I know it won’t, and I know it will become obsolete in a year (at which point I’ll be asked to believe all over again in the refined magic of Apple Watch 2). But I’m self-aware enough to know that it’s the magic I’m buying anyway.[/text_output][share title=”Share this Post” facebook=”true” twitter=”true” google_plus=”true” linkedin=”true” pinterest=”true” reddit=”true” email=”true”]