Answering Objections to Apple Watch

Whilst everyone is entitled to their own opinion, here are my responses to some common Apple Watch objections.

“The watch needs to be independent of the phone, in the future the watch will replace the phone” Many people have bought into this idea but it is it plausible? The small screen and restricted user interface of the watch can not replace the larger phone.  Many of the things you do on your phone could not be done on a tiny screen. Having something on your wrist is great for a quick glance or a couple of taps but it would be extremely uncomfortable to hold your arm in a fixed position for prolonged use, so the watch can never replace the phone. Making the watch independent would require it to have a cellular radio and we would have to pay to have it on a cellular network. Making the watch independent would put it in competition with your phone. A completely independent watch is a terrible idea. Of course it already has a measure of independent functionality that could be somewhat expanded, but Apple has got it right in making the watch and phone work together.

“Don’t buy the first iteration because in one year the form factor will be thinner” Apple are likely working on adding battery life and more sensors. This makes it unlikely that the watch will get thinner any time soon.

“The watch is big” Actually, it is much smaller than almost all other smart-watches on the market.

“Apple Watch should be round” For stylistic reasons many prefer to see a round watch face. Apple did experiment with round watch screens but they decided against them. Why? They found through usage that they liked to view photos on the watch. Pictures are better viewed in a ‘square’ frame. If you visit an art gallery, how many pictures are in a round frame? If you go to your favorite printer, how many options are there to print on round media? Apple chose a screen shape that would give the best experience when viewing pictures. This also allowed them to maximize screen real estate whilst keeping the overall form factor of the watch as small as possible.

“No one needs Apple Watch” True. At the end of the day we only really need three things – food, clothing and shelter. Still we all have many things that we feel add value. Apple Watch will not really do anything that your phone doesn’t already do, but it can do many of those things more conveniently, discretely and naturally. For example, the watch is a more convenient device than a phone for measuring your activity during exercise, it’s also a more convenient way to use Apple Pay. The watch can notify you of communications discretely and it enables you to read small bites of data (like the time) efficiently and naturally. Most compellingly, it does these things from a piece of jewelry, an object crafted from the finest materials using the finest processes. No one needs jewelry, but if you appreciate jewelry or the convenience of Apple Watch, you might consider it.

“Apple Watch is over priced” If you think so, consider: Apple have created a platform that is far more technologically advanced and powerful than any other smart watch can offer, and this starting at $350. Apple Watch has a build quality that can compete with any watch you will find at a jeweler. It’s both a piece of art and an engineering marvel that excels even Apple’s usual mastery of build quality. For example, in all the thousands of words I have read about Apple Watch barely has there been any mention of the zirconia ceramic back that graces the Watch and Edition collections. Zirconia ceramic is an extremely high quality material, because of it’s great strength it is the material of choice in replacing and reconstructing human teeth. I spent a year of my manufacturing career working with this material at extremely high oven temperatures. It is a very difficult material to work with. The quality and craftsmanship of this ceramic back is superb. This ceramic back alone goes a long way to justify the $200 extra cost over the price of the Sport Collection. When you also consider the sapphire crystal and cold-forged stainless steel and the value they add, the price of the Watch Collection seems very reasonable.

“It makes no sense for Apple to make a gold watch that has the same technology as the $350 version! Really? If Apple put more advanced technology in only the gold watch it would leave 95% of Apple customers feeling that they have been excluded and treated as a lower class because they are not super rich. The appeal of the gold version is not based on tech specs. It is simply that it is gold and very exclusive. It is essential for Apple to cater for this high end market if they are to be taken seriously in the fashion world. If Apple Watch is to succeed they must successfully persuade people to wear it instead of their expensive fashion watch. The very existence of the gold watch establishes Apple as a mark of distinction in the minds of some. It will make some people take the cheaper collections more seriously. It is inaccurate to judge Apple Watch on the basis of the current watch market. People who have never before considered buying a gold watch will buy this one. People who have not worn any watch for years will buy an Apple one.

“Apple Watch Edition is stupid” Initial polls indicate that as many as 4% of those who plan to buy Apple Watch say they will get the Edition. I find this hard to believe, but if true it suggests that Apple could sell something like 750,000 gold watches this year. My guess is that this could generate close to 10 billion dollars of profit! The existence of the gold watch will also drive up consumer desire for the other collections, thus boosting further profit. Actually, I think we will see Apple add further collections. We might see a bulk metallic glass case or we might see a Marc Newson Signature Collection.

“The price of the gold watch is insane” It seems insane that the gold watch costs far more than its estimated weight in gold. However, consider four observations. 1) Jewelry usually costs much more than the sum total value of it’s precious metals/gems. The value of jewelry is usually in artistic expression more than function. 2) If Apple were to price the watch much cheaper they would risk selling so many that they would use much of the worlds available gold and thus drive up the price of gold and then have to raise their prices. 3) Businesses that process large quantities of gold are badly effected by fluctuations in the price. Such businesses have to protect themselves with a complex arrangement of loans and insurance, Apple can avoid this and protect their business by determining a large profit margin. 4) Consider the value of the hundreds of thousands of gold watches that will soon be in store inventories and also the value of gold in process in the factory. This could be the best part of a billion dollars! Since there will be manufacturing and inventory for the life of the product this money cannot be easily recovered. It’s a cost of doing business. In manufacturing theory it is termed “waste”, in fact optimizing production by reducing the number of parts in process (or the number of units in inventory) can recover a little of this money. Basically, it is a huge cost to Apple to have hundreds of thousands of dollars of gold just sitting around, gold that they have bought but not yet sold. Profit margins need to account for this. The price is basically in line with the price of other gold watches and also reflects unique business problems that come with gold.

“The gold watch can’t be passed on to the next generation because the technology will be out of date” The watch will never loose value as a fashion accessory and will likely become very collectable, both for it’s style and it’s history. Furthermore, it will never loose it’s value as a time-piece – even though it will inevitably cease to function with the latest iPhone, it will continue to have the same functionality as other gold watches that are passed on.

“Apple should have put a battery in the strap” This comment is made by a tech minded person and not a fashion minded one. Apple have designed what is arguably the finest collection of watch straps in the world. A strap battery system would destroy Apple Watch as a fashion product.

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