After months of speculation and rumor, on the ninth of March Apple held an official launch event for the Apple Watch. And with the announcement of the product the speculation can turn from ‘what will it be like?’ to ‘will it be successful?’
Speculative opinions are dime-a-dozen, and there are many views about how well this product will do. However, I have yet to be convinced that it will be wildly successful. Nor am I alone in believing this. As a product, it seems like it is suffering from a number of problems that will limit its success.
The biggest problem these watches will be facing are the absurdly high prices. At first it would seem easy to write this detail off. After all, most of Apple’s products are high end and come with an equally exorbitant price point. But there are a few factors that minimize this with other Apple products. Regarding the iPhone, one should remember that for many people the phone is subsidized by telecommunications companies in a way that customers do not feel the brunt of the cost. As for the iPad, one should consider that for many people it is a laptop (or in some cases desktop) replacement and in that niche it is certainly economical.
The Apple Watch, on the other hand, does not seem to be. The bottom tier price point of $350 is about the average customer pays for an iPhone, with no one about to help subsidize the cost. But even if one considers the Watch’s price tag acceptable, the price they are charging for replacement bands certainly seems extravagant. Of course, the free market will rectify that particular problem. But the point remains even if
But the poor price point compounds another problem. Apple has a reputation for innovative products. The iPhone really did do much to change what people thought about their phones, bringing them into their own as multimedia devices. It is debatable as to whether the iPad was equally impactful, but there is certainly a common conception that it was. In a respect, Apple may soon find themselves at odds with their own reputation, and the customer expectation of the Apple Watch may be unreasonably high.
Which begs the questions, are customers really getting their money’s worth? For the most part, the Apple Watch seems like little more than a glorified, albeit much more stylish, fitness band. Without going into a laundry list of features, the short of it is that the watch can do many things that your phone could do, while as well having the additional features that come with most fitness bands. During Apple’s presentation, many apps common to the iPhone were demonstrated via the Apple Watch. But for the time being we do not know whether any Apple Watch exclusive apps will redeem the product, or even give it additional value. Again, the market will ultimately decide that fate.
So it would appear that what the Watch boils down to is how much the convenience of dismissing a phone call without reaching into your pocket is worth to you. If it is worth $350+, then perhaps the Apple Watch is for you. And while I recognize that many people these days do budget their time in seconds, it seems truly difficult to justify such a cost for what seems like such a minuscule benefit. All this leaves us with another question; why did Apple price the watch as it did, particularly in light of its somewhat limited capabilities?
The best answer would appear that they are trying to be competitive in a different market. Notably, the watch market. Apple, either unimpressed or unconcerned by the efforts of Pebble, Samsung, Motorola etc, have set their cross-hairs towards larger targets. The biggest evidence of this is the seemingly ludicrously priced Gold edition of the Apple Watch. It seems obvious that this was not meant to contend with the lowly Samsung Gear Fit, or for that matter anything else that exists in that market. The only reasonable competitor would be a higher end Rolex.
But this too is a gambit that might not pay off. When was the last time you saw someone look at a very fine watch and complain that Moore’s law has since made it irrelevant?
So what are your thoughts on Apple’s latest product? Float or sink? Will you be purchasing one.?