Wednesday, 11 March 2015 14:52

Apple's watch is just another data-gathering device Featured

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Whether Apple's watch fails or not — and that is a relative question — it matters not one whit to the company. This is just another device which will help to boost the company's data gathering.

And that is the name of the game for the present and the future. Massive data banks, of every kind, are being built up by digital companies and mined for on-selling and niche advertising.

Governments are building up even bigger banks of data, with the National Security Agency in the US far ahead of the rest of the world.

As to success, when you are a company which is valued at more than US$700 billion, you can afford to put up with a few "failures". The margins on all Apple gadgets are huge and even balancing the books will be fine because of the massive amount of personal data that the watch will collect.

The Apple watch will help in gathering personal data of the medical kind as will all wearable devices. This will be of use to big pharma, doctors, insurance companies and the like.

Any new devices that Apple creates will have an innate advantage because they will play perfectly with the existing ones – the iPhone, the iPad, the iMac and the MacBook, all of which are extremely popular among a certain class of user. And Apple's reputation for producing quality hardware will help sell any gadget it produces.

The Apple watch has the added advantage of being around on an individual more of the time than any other Apple device. You are bound to forget your mobile at times, but the watch, never. Its absence is more acutely felt as it is discernible to the user both by touch and sight.

The data conundrum is a frightening one if one looks at it a little closely. You only need what Australia digital expert George Brandis called metadata to build up a more or less complete profile of a human being's activities.

One visit to a psychiatrist could do an individual out of a job. One visit to a brothel could lead to a priest being defrocked. Unless you are a nitpicker, you will not bother to switch off the internet connectivity on your phone, watch or whatever.

One visit to the location of a crime scene — you could even just be passing by — and you may be asked to come to court to provide evidence. If governments do not have the geo-location data, they will probably buy it from digital companies. This means a good revenue source for Apple, among others.

Of course, this will not stop people from buying more and more of these devices. People have loads of spare time on their hands these days and any new — and novel — way of wasting time will be more than welcome. The era of looking at cat videos on the laptop may be drawing to a close and people will probably be looking at them on a watch soon.

Image: Courtesy greenpeace.org

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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