In the wake of Apple’s “spring forward” media event which unveiled more details about Apple Watch, many media outlets are voicing deep skepticism over whether this product will sell. They argue ‘very few people have been buying smart watches so there is no market for them’. This reasoning is flawed. Consider:
Something similar was said with respect to iPad. Many ‘experts’ said that it would not sell. Why? They looked at the marketplace and saw that tablet computers were not successful. They failed to understand the powerful differences between iPad and previous tablet computers. This same fallacious market analysis often takes place within companies, it goes something like this: Someone in the company has an innovative idea, the company gets it’s marketing people to assess, and they come back and say there isn’t a market and the idea is killed. The problem with looking at the current market to assess an innovative new product is that innovation is by definition ‘new’ and cannot be directly compared to anything in the current marketplace. Truly innovative ideas can create new markets. Only brave and visionary executives put their weight behind such products. This was the case with iPad and it will also be the case with Apple Watch. Apple Watch will create a new market.
The ‘experts’ seem to fail to understand that Apple Watch is more than a tech device, it is jewelry – it is made out of the finest materials available and has the allure of fine jewelry. People buy watches not just to tell the time but because they are jewelry.
The price of the entry level Apple Watch Sport can be justified in terms of the technological functionality, beyond that one pays, not for additional function, but for finer quality materials and more fashionable straps. Some tech journalists find the prices of the standard Apple Watch collection hard to swallow. Whilst such individuals would happily pay more for extra memory or a faster processor in their iPhone or Mac, is hard for them to justify spending more for the stainless steel, sapphire and zirconia because those materials don’t make the device do more. They don’t yet get it!
The entry level Sport will likely be the best seller. For most people $350 is a lot of money, so the entry level watch will sell best. Many of the people that care more about tech than fashion will favor it. In order to save money, some people on tech websites are talking about buying the Sport and a separate stainless steel band – these people obviously have no sense of propriety, the idea of pairing aluminium with steel is like going out wearing odd shoes. You don’t have to be fashion minded to know that it’s wrong. This is why Apple have paired cases and bands in collections, to avoid this. Still, I love that they have given us the freedom to be creative in choosing our own pairings by buying additional bands.
It’s going to take some time for people to figure out Apple Watch. Even seasoned tech journalists are a little blinded by their geekiness and unable to grasp what Apple Watch is as a fashion item.
People that see Apple Watch as jewelry will focus in on the standard and Edition collections, they will appreciate the value of sapphire crystal, zirconia ceramic and Apple’s high quality custom alloys of stainless and gold. These products will sell extremely well. Some will think of it as a gadget that is well made others will think of it as jewelry that happens to have cool functions.
As people use the watch they will find that it will revolutionize the way they use their phone. No longer will people pull out their phones hundreds of times a day. When your connected to home wifi you will be able to leave the phone in one room but utilize it through the watch via the wifi network.
Some are saying that they will wait 12 months for the 2nd generation, hoping it will have better ‘specs’. They assume that Apple will update this product yearly. I’m not certain of this. I think this product will have a user upgrade cycle of 4-6 years (and be updated by Apple every 2 years). When people start to realize this the price of the watch will be diluted and it will seem to be very good value. It is also assumed by many that the second iteration of Apple Watch will be thinner. I doubt we will see a thinner Apple Watch any time soon. As people use the watch in the wild, certain usage scenarios will quickly drain the battery. I suspect Apple engineers are right now focussed on increasing battery life and I think that means the watch will keep its current thickness. It might be four years before we see a thinner Apple Watch. After a year or so of use the Apple Watch Sport is going to acquire dings and scratches and start to look tired. So in time people will come to appreciate that the materials used in the stainless collection are superior and a watch made out of them will look great for longer. So, whilst I live on a tight budget, I’ll be saving for the stainless steel Apple Watch and I’ll expect to use it for 4-6 years.