The Corner

If Apple Can’t Handle Federal Regulators, Who Can?

If you’ve been wondering why exactly you should buy a new Apple Watch, the new wearable computing device from America’s favorite unstoppable technology juggernaut, you’re not alone. One obvious reason could be that you have money to burn, yet you find the idea of literally setting it on fire distasteful. Short of that, I’m hard-pressed to think of one. Daisuke Wakabayashi of the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple executives are having a similarly tough time. Apparently, they are “struggling to define the purpose of the smartwatch and wrestling with why a consumer would need or want such a device.” There is one very valuable thing the Apple Watch could do — it could collect real-time health information and offer valuable feedback, which was part of the original plan. As it happens, however, health-sensor technology isn’t quite where Apple had hoped it would be and, more tellingly, there was a concern that a suite of truly helpful health applications would have “prompted unwanted regulatory oversight.” Even one of the world’s most profitable companies, sitting on a mountain of cash, was reluctant to tussle with federal regulators over providing nothing more than health and behavior advice. Imagine all the small-fry entrepreneurs who’ve been deterred from doing the same. 

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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