SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- Over a celebratory dinner Monday evening, I floated the idea of buying my dad, the birthday boy, an Apple Watch Sport. This was the cheapest model of a new Apple (AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. (AAPL) Report watch line that would begin shipping next month.
He didn't want one.
My dad, the consummate Apple loyalist, rejected Apple's new toy. I was taken aback.
To say my dad is an Apple "fan boy" or evangelist would be minimizing more than 30 years of unshakeable belief in the company. He went to user groups, convinced his company to switch from PCs to Macs in the '80s and raised me as a "Mac baby." The latter is evidenced, partly, by an old light blue pillow in the Van Grove home with those very words stitched on it.
The moment marked the first time in my life my dad has ever refused a product developed by the company he idolizes and it struck me. Yes, the Apple Watch has been roasted by critics as a wholly unnecessary gadget since its presentation in September, but to find its purpose so indecipherable in this real-life instance, was proof enough for me that Apple has taken a sharp detour from its mission of making "powerful technology more accessible" -- unless accessible simply means attached to your wrist.
Apple Watch is powerful technology, but it's powerful technology that no one needs.
Notifications, calls, email, weather, sports scores, reminders, messaging, payments, Siri, electronic boarding passes, fitness-tracking, the Apple Watch can do so many things. But so can the iPhone, and with a screen that my aging parents can actually see and read.
The Apple Watch is almost entirely useless without a paired iPhone nearby. The watch can't do much more than tell time, view photos or play installed music on its own. That means if you already have an iPhone, you don't need the watch. After all, watch apps are powered by iPhone apps. If the iPhone is unreachable, the watch apps won't function. And if you don't have an iPhone, you can't use the watch.
This was a sticking point with many developers I spoke to ahead of Apple's "Spring Forward" event. The developer community will rally around the watch mostly because it comes from Apple, and developers believe if anyone can create the killer wearable, Apple can. But many app makers will find their big ideas grounded in the limitations imposed by the watch's software development kit, WatchKit.
WatchKit "may fall a little short from the developer side in what we actually want to be able to do with Apple Watch," Scott Jenkins, a long-time developer of iOS applications, told me. "I wanted to be able to control the watch, and the bits, and the graphics inside of it."
But he can't.
There's also uncertainty as to whether the watch will be easy to use for the average person, especially since some technology reporters have found the watch's interface and features complicated in their initial tests. The hallmark of an Apple product is its ability to be used right out of the box, but if it presents wearers with a steep learning curve, its usefulness comes into question.
I fail to see how Apple Watch is the "most personal" device ever, as CEO Tim Cook and management would have you believe. Sure, the watch can read my heartbeat, but so can the treadmill at the gym, and I've never had a personal attachment to a treadmill.
Do we really want personal relationships with our devices, anyway?
Still, the question of necessity trumps all. If Apple can't convince me I need one -- I own a MacBook Air, iPhone and two iPads -- what are the chances it can convince the general public?
Some might point out that the iPad received similar criticism when it was released. It's just a big iPhone, the critics said. Yet, iPad not only went on to be a best-seller for Apple -- more than 225 million iPads have been sold to date -- but it also reinvigorated the previously defunct tablet category, forcing everyone from Microsoft (MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) Report to Samsung to make tablets of their own. Today, iPads are everywhere, used by consumers and businesses alike.
The iPad, however, has the distinct advantage of being 100% functional with or without an iPhone. iPad acts as a convenient computer replacement. It's as simple as that.
My opinion probably won't be a popular one with Apple enthusiasts. For them, I admit that I may even buy one just to keep up with the Jones'. Despite its lack of clear purpose, Apple will sell millions of watches, Van Baker, a research analyst at Gartner, said. "It is Apple's shiny new product," he said.
For Apple's fiscal 2015, which ends in September, analysts' estimates for Apple Watch-related revenue range between $1 billion and $7 billion. Analyst firm Oppenheimer went so far as to predict that Apple Watch would eventually become consumers' primary computing device, once the kinks are worked out.
That sounds like a stretch largely because it's hard to compute how Apple Watch makes powerful technology more accessible to the masses. On Monday, Cook said his company is "pushing forward and creating the future."
Perhaps he's pushing us a little too forcibly into Apple's vision of the future.