Last updated: Fit for engagement: Why ‘new’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘good’

Fit for engagement: Why ‘new’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘good’

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As any fan of Moore’s law knows, the jackboots of technology have been gathering pace for some time. New services, devices and gadgets are launched almost daily. Every self-respecting tech company worth their salt now live-streams their AGM, as CEOs festooned with boom mics bound on stage to give exciting first-glimpses at their latest products.

But when everything you do has a fanfare, do the trumpets not lose a bit of their appeal? How do you celebrate something you’re really proud of? Talk about the new generation of smart consumers got me thinking about how my own generation sees things.

We’re no strangers to messaging – we’ve all grown up surrounded by advertising – constantly bombarded by companies vying for attention. It seems that in the tech world at least, many of them also use software updates to reinforce the fact that they are looking after us, that they deserve our loyalty as they tirelessly innovate to improve our lives.

Innovators, tattoo these words on your soul: updating is not the same as adding value.

Why then has my Apple Watch been in a drawer for…well, pretty much since I got it? I tried it, but to be honest I’m just not sure if I need one. It’s not a real Class A invention as it wasn’t a market leader, and it doesn’t seem to add anything material to my life. There’s no phone tech or FaceTime embedded in it – I’m not freed from having to carry my phone if I want to go for a run and listen to music or make a few calls on the go. It’s a very expensive fashion accessory.

The whole thing smacks of The Emperor’s New Clothes, and the marketing fails because it’s too obviously a satellite device for the iPhone with a funky bracelet, and not a masterpiece of timekeeping, designed by world-leading horologists. Would Steve Jobs would have let it out as is, without a phone function built in? You tell me.

Google Glass was a complete non-starter too – though it was an interesting concept and at least intriguing to play with. What I struggled with is quite why, as someone who no longer needs to wear glasses, I would choose to go back to wearing frames. That said, something tells me that with Google Glass at least, the technology will have plenty of further applications.

Of course I fully appreciate that companies have to innovate or risk stasis, but it needs to be guided. Look at male grooming and razors – Gillette and Wilkinson-Sword adding more and more blades, and now challenged by newcomer DollarShaveClub’s ballsy approach.

Ultimately, if you’re going to provide any service, whether it be razor blades or world class marketing and commerce tools, the onus is on you to make sure that what you are offering will both add value and be a pleasure to use. If it doesn’t do those two things at the very least, then perhaps you should consider going back to the drawing board.

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