Apple has a tendency of ‘inventing’ a category, long after others have already inhabited the space. Apple ‘invented’ the smartphone, Apple ‘invented’ the MP3 player, Apple ‘invented’ digital media streaming, Apple ‘invented’ NFC. Of course, in this case, ‘invented’ means slapping an Apple logo on it, taking away functionality, and convincing the gullible that these (limited) capabilities are only available within the Apple ecosystem.
And Apple is planning it again with the Apple Watch. Have they done it? Well, some would say yes. News of 1 million pre-orders of the Apple Watch is a very familiar headline now. Sounds impressive doesn’t it?
I don’t think it is. And I don’t think Apple thinks so either.
Over at IBT, they are pointing to ‘robust’ sales. They are utilizing the same method which Apple uses when they speak of their ‘innovations’ in their new phone, which is this:
Compare it to the first iPhone.
As Apple make small improvements on their phones, oftentimes not a big enough increase that any rational person would choose to spend such a high a cost to make such a small jump in tech, Apple doesn’t compare to the previous model. They compare to the first iPhone. Yes, it’s very easy to say the iPhone 6 is leaps and bounds ahead of the first iPhone which didn’t even have cut and paste. Well in this case, nearly 1 millions pre-orders of the Apple Watch does look impressive compared to first day sells of the original iPhone and original iPad of 270,000 and 300,000 respectively. But Apple is in a different position now. They are masters of marketing. And those sales figures would be considered a failure by Apple compared to the iPhone 6 and 6+ sales of 10 million sold in the first weekend of availability. And sales of a million units must look absolutely dismal to Apple who was disappointed with fourth quarter sales of 12.3 million units of iPads in 2014.
Add to that, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in the Apple Watch.
Teens, the market which arguably made Apple, or at least made them big with the iPod and the dancing silhouettes, don’t seem to care much about the Apple Watch. Macrumors reports that in a survey, only 11% of teens plan on purchasing an Apple Watch. This is down 5% from a survey just last fall.
We believe the lower purchase intent reflects a wait and see approach to the Watch as it seems unclear what will be the “killer app” for the Watch. We expect teens to be a good market for the Apple Watch given the popularity of the iPhone, but believe it will take time for influencers (celebrities) to make the watch popular among teens.
And as Blackjack told us earlier a killer app may just be hard to come by thanks to Apple’s own engineering.
Engineers! Now there’s a technical bunch! They’ll appreciate such great new (sarcasm) tech right? Well ITBusinessEdge is reporting that is most definitely not the case. In a recent survey of 1000 engineers, a whopping 0% plan on buying one. That’s right. 0%. And there’s more. Of those 1000 engineers,
-50 percent hold negative views of Tim Cook.
-57 percent believe that Apple’s stock will go down.
-0 percent will buy the new watch.
-0 percent think the new watch is worth the $349 price tag.
So that’s one consumer area Apple should probably not spend money on. But that’s just my opinion. Spend all you want Timmy, you’ve got plenty of cash.
To be fair, Apple has been pretty smart about this. As I said before, it seems that Apple also planned on not much interest in the Apple Watch. The entire method behind the release seems to prove this.
The Apple marketing machine has a tried and true method. Mass releases, with not enough product to go around, which in turn causes lines to form around city streets, making it to the news, which of course makes others think they just have to have this amazing product! Anyone that hasn’t stood in one of those lines recognizes this for what it is, a sales tactic. A tactic used by a company that has a product that people want, to get more people to want it. A tactic which even Samsung is apparently trying to emulate by paying people to wait in line at the S6 release in China. In fairness, Samsung has denied these accusations stating the participants were ‘formally invited’. Perhaps in China a formal invitation arrives with a paycheck?
But there would be no lines for the Apple Watch. Instead Apple did not offer the Apple Watch in stores. Instead choosing to do so, where lines would probably have been few and far between, and an embarrassment to Apple, they chose to go the online route. However they did something else that shows the real marketing genius behind Apple. They allowed the public to try it on. By booking an appointment, anyone could go try on an Apple Watch. Anyone that might be curious, or just wanted to tell a friend that they had played with one before they were available, could go spend 15 minutes wearing a watch. And Apple was able to have headlines that read “Consumers flock to stores worldwide to try Apple Watch” (New York Post)
Is the Apple Watch a flop? Can we call it the next Newton? Not yet it isn’t. But it’s also safe to say it’s not the next iPhone, and not even the next iPad. With the exorbitant prices being asked for the device, Apple should have no problem making money on the device, but I willing to bet it’s also not a device we’ll see Apple bragging about once it’s truly out on the market.
Time will tell.
If you carry your Apple Watch charger with you.