Apple Convenience is winning over function

My Apple Hardware Hierarchy of Need

There was a snarky tweet forming in my head about my Apple Watch this morning. Something about liking it, but not needing it. This triggered an interesting mental exercise where I started stack ranking all my Apple hardware products by need. I found both the exercise and the results interesting.

Here is my Apple Hierarchy of Need in reverse order and labeled either as Nice to Have, Necessary, or Critical.1

  • Apple Watch. It sits there on my desk on a marvel of a charger and each morning I stare at it and ask myself, “Should I wear it?” The bottom line is I have no compelling reason to put it on it. Yes, I like that it alerts me when my phone is ringing, but that’s a nice to have, it’s not critical. (Nice to have)
  • Apple TV. This flip-flopped with the iPad a couple of times as I worked on this list and it lost to the iPad in the regular usage category. I use my iPad every night when I go to bed. I use my Apple TV maybe a couple times a week. Apple TV usage suffers because much of free time goes to watching on my iPad or MacBook and cough playing Destiny. (Nice to have)
  • iPad. The iPad has become my go to nightstand accessory. I don’t use it at work and rarely use it outside of the bedroom. My primary use case is lightweight content consumption. I have a bunch of books, but in the last six months I’ve moved back to atomic-based books because I love books. I purposely didn’t put product versions as part of this list, but it’s worth noting that this is relatively old iPad, it works great, and I’ve currently no compelling reason to upgrade. (Nice to have)
  • iMac. My iMac and my secondary monitor used to be my primary computing rig and I still derive great pixel joy when I sit down at stare at a sea of pixels. I still receive this joy, but I spend vastly more time at my beloved MacBook Pro. Even at work, where everyone has a secondary display, I see folks staring at their MacBooks and often forgetting to plug their MacBook into their display. Convenience is winning over function. (Necessary)
  • MacBook Pro. I’ve walked into the Apple Store no less than five times with cash in hand to buy a gold MacBook and each time I’ve talked myself out it. I like the feel of the new keyboard, but I need the weight of the MacBook Pro. I love the weight of the aluminum of the MacBook. This is my primary computer, I use it hours every single day – it is essential. (Critical)
  • iPhone. It’s not hard to pick the the piece of Apple hardware I need the most. Yes, if my MacBook Pro vanished, I’d be screwed, but if my iPhone vanished I wouldn’t sleep. My iPhone is my connection with my family, it’s reliable read access to all of my communication mediums, it’s my WiFi connection, it’s my camera, it’s my music player, and I am aware of where my iPhone is 24 hours a day because it’s as important (and rapidly replacing) my wallet. (Critical)

I’m sad that the Apple Watch is sitting at the bottom of the hierarchy. It is gorgeous, but it’s not necessary nor remotely critical. I love the jellyfish that playfully wander the screen when I go to check the time, but gorgeous animated wallpaper and a steady flow of notifications is simply nice to have.


  1. Unrelated useless observation. As I was building the list, it was noteworthy which products required Apple as part of the name and which didn’t. 

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6 Responses

  1. I suspect you aren’t the only one who values the iPhone above all else in the Maslow hierarchy of computing.

    Apple Pay is set to come to Canada this Fall. Watch has Apple Pay capability and can stream music to bluetooth headphones without being paired to the iPhone. The idea that I could leave my house without an iPhone or any cards in my pocket and pay for things and play music is enticing. If more iPhone independant features move over to the Watch in future iterations this device may move up the Maslowian hierarchy.

    The new Macbook is indeed tempting. Unfortunate that it can’t drive an external 27″ Apple Thunderbolt Display.

    Here are the tools I use to do my work in no particular order: http://www.davidedwardclark.com/tools-for-design-and-coding.html

  2. Pinkerton 1 year ago

    I find I use my watch regularly where a phone would be unsafe or inconvenient, like preparing for a walk in the morning, controlling music in the car, and dictating immediate responses to incoming texts. I still bring the phone, but don’t really interact with it.

    The watch is always on my wrist, even when I abandon the phone. I think of it as part of the phone, actually… more like the mouse I attach to my laptop than the laptop itself. It’s the piece of the phone that I drag around, even without the phone.

  3. I echo the same Apple hierarchy of needs (except for Apple TV, I have a Google TV). It’s a shame the Apple Watch hasn’t become more essential in my life. I think the disappointing bit for me was I thought it would at least be a better alternative to Fitbit or other daily fitness trackers and it hasn’t; I stopped taking it on my runs.

  4. Part of that is not fully formed English:

    “and I still derive great pixel you when I sit down at stare at a sea of pixels.”