It’s something new from Apple and the world should have it. When you buy it, it has to be tweeted, its screenshots posted on Facebook and the end of the email should read: ‘Sent from my …’ Apple simply killed the last two quarters of 2014 with the sales of the iPhone 6+. That’s from the same company that didn’t believe phones should have larger screens. Apple just launched the Apple Watch last April and the world expected the same long lines, the same amount of hype and fanfare for Cupertino’s new product category. As expected, there were still long lines of people hoping to try on and take home an Apple Watch despite the company’s advisory to schedule demos before appearing at the store and that the gadget can be pre-ordered on line. It’s great publicity for both Apple and its watch but at the end of the day, it’s the sales and numbers that matter but so far, Apple has adjectives.
Apple’s new device isn’t exactly revolutionary. Several companies already beat Cupertino in the smart watch category such as Pebble, Sony, and Samsung. But like fine wine, Apple takes its time to refine a product and endow it with style, quality and of course the brand. That’s what makes Apple products popular such as the iPod, iMacs, iPads and especially the iPhone. More than a month after launch, the Apple Watch seems to be taking its time to be popular. Unlike iPhone sales where Apple quickly provides some numbers after release, Tim Cook and company only has adjectives for the press. Pre-orders of course, seem favorable but mostly from other distributors. A month after introduction, actual sales are still sketchy but the tech world, whose eyes are always on Cupertino can’t help but wonder whether or not the Apple Watch becomes the next iPod or iPhone.
When asked questions with regards to sales, Tim Cook or Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams offer rather colorful positives instead of figures with words such as “Sales are fantastic.” “We’ve sold a lot but not enough.” “Customer response is overwhelmingly positive.” What the public wants to hear is “We’ve sold bajillions of units just this week.” “Our sales are through the roof, amazing, staggering and unprecedented, and insanely great.” But with Apple’s muted responses as of late with regards to Apple Watch sales, people can’t help but wonder or even worry.
Unlike iPhones, with the Apple Watch, customers do not always leave the store with product in hand so those long lines didn’t exactly translate into large sales. Customers can try it on and choose which band or variant that suits them but they don’t always leave the store with a box. It’s easy to speculate that the product is not as good as the hype that surrounds it. Another reason could be that there’s really not enough product out there yet, that the store is out of stock, that the product is tied up to preorders and other channels. Another reason is that a few short months ago that customers just plunked out a premium for their iPhone 6.
Then again, wearables as a category isn’t just that popular or compelling. Apple may have sold more Apple Watches than all other brand of smart watch combined which says something about the wearables industry. But that’s just Apple being Apple. People might still line up for the iToaster. For smart watches, the market may not be as ripe as expected and for the longest time, cellphones have rendered wristwatches as redundant when it comes to telling time and the idea of having to put one on again feels unnecessary.
A product’s shortcomings also affects its popularity. The number one deal breaker for the Apple Watch is its short battery life. A watch that can’t function straight for 24 hours hardly qualifies as a watch. That’s something that Apple needs to remedy very quickly and stop convincing people that humans really function for less than 24. Humans pull about three all-nighters if they really have to but they don’t have to charge their watches at the 18th hour. Humans expect more from their timepieces. Tony Stark’s limited edition Dora the Explorer watch beats Apple’s hands down when it comes to telling time…continuously. Whether or not the watch will be used for 24 hours straight, it should be able to function for at least 48.
Another concern is Apple’s exorbitant pricing. Again, Apple is just being Apple but to shell out at least $350 (Apple Watch Sport) for a watch that can’t function for a whole day without charging is a bit much. Apple expects the real money makers to shell out at least $10,000 for the gold plated version (Apple Watch Edition) which has the same innards as the $350 version.
And lastly, the watch is dependent on the iPhone. For it to be fully functional, it needs to be near an iPhone version 5 and later. So for people who want the Apple Watch but don’t have iPhones, would have to come out of the store with at least an iPhone 5S.
Despite these and questionable numbers, the Apple Watch gave the wearables market a big push and other tech firms have come out with their own smart watches. Apple needs to straighten out the Apple Watch fast and come up with a firmware fix for the battery and come up with a killer-app as well. But really, it’s just a little over a month since its release. Apple will have to show the public some numbers on the next quarter then we’ll see if the time has come for the Apple Watch.