Why would anybody buy an Apple Watch?

“This is a story about the Apple Watch,” Derek Thompson reports for The Atlantic. “It starts on Friday, June 29, 2007. Days before the iPhone debuted, the market research company Universal McCann came out with a blockbuster report proving that practically nobody in the United States would buy the iPhone.”

“Solid survey research suggested not only that the iPhone would fail, but also that it would fail particularly hard in the United States because our phones and cameras are good enough, already,” Thompson reports. “That’s the story you might not know. What happened next is the story you do know.”

“Today, there are lots of people saying ‘I have no idea why I could buy a $300 smartwatch with no battery life when I have an iPhone.’ They are telling the truth. They really can’t imagine owning a smart watch,” Thompson reports. “But the moral of the story is that it doesn’t matter that they’re telling the truth.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “BD” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Apple Watch, the world’s first real smartwatch, will be a massive hit – September 9, 2014


    1. I think a lot of people did not conceptually understand Apple Watch, before Tim and Co. explained it.

      What most people did not want was a “watch” with an Apple logo. That was the public’s “concept.” To explain Apple Watch, Apple first redefined “people” as iPhone customers (existing and future). Then, Apple Watch was cleverly (and subtly) described as an extension of iPhone’s capabilities. You WANT this, because it lets your iPhone do SO MUCH more, not because you want an “Apple watch.” The only two thing Apple Watch has in common with a typical wristwatch are that you wear it on your wrist and it tells you the time.

      And it IS similar to what people often said about iPhone. Before it was officially introduced, the concept was “a phone with an Apple logo.” Why do I need that…? I already have a mobile phone, and it’s fine (“good enough”). Then, Steve Jobs presented it, and iPhone instantly became a computer that fits in your pocket, with a built-in “best iPod we’ve ever made.” Oh, and it happens to make phone calls. That’s when everyone want one.

      1. What I like the most is the sending drawings/taps/heartbeat feature. I’m just wondering how this works. Like do I go through my contacts and select who to allow drawings from? And is it a setting that I enable? I dont know if this is on the apple site already or if I just have to wait and see, just wondering what you guys think

        1. I don’t know how it works, but it’s iPhone (that each of those Apple Watch users has in close proximity) that “orchestrates” the magic. What Apple Watch does is enhance the iPhone experience, by allowing iPhone to do things it could not do before. But from the user’s perspective, it’s a personal interaction that happens from one Apple Watch to another. That’s pure “magic.” iPhone is not in the picture, but without iPhone, it would not work.

          Apple Watch will sell in the tens of millions because there are so many existing iPhone (5 and later) customers. All it takes is a small percentage who desire the enhanced iPhone user experience Apple Watch provides. But the desire to have Apple Watch will also drive sales of iPhone, because people want things that seem magical, and that Apple Watch magic does not happen without iPhone.

    1. My son, a senior in high school, has already put in his graduation present order for an Watch. Tells you all you need to know about how successful it will be — the youngins want it!

  1. One of the polls indicated that about 20% of iPhone users are potentially interested in the Watch.

    This level of interest is enough to generate up to 10 million units per quarter sales, up to $5 billion of revenue per quarter — 40 million units, $20 billion per year.

    Obviously, the pace will be slower than that in the beginning, but the prospects are such.

    1. As long as most people retain some degree of rationality and do not expect every new Apple product to be a bigger blockbuster than anything that came before, then everything will be OK. You cannot compare everything to the iPhone – that particular combination of ASP, profit margin, unit sales volume, and relatively short refresh interval is exceedingly rare. But that does not mean that those products are somehow unworthy or should be showered with disdain. iPod sales have dropped steadily from their peak because of the iPhone and iPad, which both incorporate iPod functionality. But the iPod is still a strong business that meshes well with the rest of the Apple ecosystem and produces substantial cash flow and profits.

      Apple has already addressed some of the key home run products/functions with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad and associated software and supporting functions (e.g., iCloud). But Apple and its customers still have a lot to gain from Apple attempting to “fill in the corners” with a variety of supporting products such as the Apple Watch, AppleTV, etc. and continuing to evolve and refine its ecosystem.

    1. The self winding watch feature.
      I was thinking along the same lines. At what point can the self winding mechanism be used to generate enough electricity to partially charge the battery?
      Solve that and you can retire early.

      1. Best info I can find is that it takes 0.02 Joules of energy to wind up a watch. Converting that into electrical terms, that’s 5.5 × 10-6 watt hours … and an iPhone battery pack is around 5.5 Watt-hours, which means that the traditional watch spring is short by six (6) full orders of magnitude. Granted, a watch doesn’t need as much power as an iPhone, but even if we assume that it only needs 1% as much power, that only chops off two zeros, so we’re still way short.

    1. You hit on one of the obvious visual discriminators between the Apple Watch and the me-first versions from Samsung and others – the Apple Watch was designed from the start as a fashion accessory. It may not be perfect in its original incarnation, but the thought that went into its configuration and materials and interchangeable bands…that will make a huge difference to the public. Since it is a highly visible wearable item, many people will care a lot more about being able to customize it and match their style. I would not be surprise of some people purchased several different bands and even a couple of different Apple Watches to give them a half-dozen or more “looks” from which to choose.

      As with all things, time will tell how successful the Apple Watch will be and how it should evolve. But I believe that it is off to a great start.

    1. Ha! Reminds me of the early complaints about the iPhone being that the phone would ring while you were listening to your music, so it wasn’t a very good improvement on the iPod.

  2. I used to wear a watch because I liked their functionality and looks. But, in the end, I stopped because their functionality was too tedious to use on a regular basis.

    Before that phase, I wore a watch because they were attractive, and I had a collection of Swatches with various colorful bands, watch faces, and cases, changing them to suit my whims.

    Before that I wore watches to tell me the time very accurately. I loved my Accutron with its tuning fork.

    Before that I wore a watch simply to be sure I showed up on time, and the nearest few minutes was good enough.

    After the tedium of forgetting how to adjust/use the various occasional uses of my most recent multifunction watches, which required a lengthy manual be kept nearby, it was a relief to get the new iPhone with its Internet correct time, and put watches behind me.

    However, the iPhone is now much more than a phone, or a convenient watch. It’s a computer that connects me to the world, supplying me with information continuously from my friends, news sources, and general data I used to use an encyclopedia for, when it was nearby. The days of going for hours without knowing what’s going on around me among my friends or the world at large, are just a luxury reserved for romantic getaways into cellular/Internet deprived areas of the world today. My friends expect me to reply in minutes when they propose dinner plans, or coworkers are seeking help with a deadline looming.

    In short, I’m ready to reconsider having a device that can subtly notify me about stuff when my iPhone is cradled in the other room, or buried in a bag. And if it can also monitor my health, expedite the pay process when I’m out shopping, or even just tell me the time with a face I can change to suit my mood, then I’m all for giving it another try.

    It helps that I’m a technophile. I always liked the Dick Tracy watch as a kid, after all.

  3. “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”

    “We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research..”

    “We made the iPod for ourselves, and when you’re doing something for yourself, or your best friend or family you’re not going to cheese out. ……The Zune was crappy because the people at Microsoft don’t really love music or art the way we do. We won because we personally love music”


  4. My wish for Apple’s next “one more thing”: buy Sprint or T-Mobile. The user experience on that end sucks: too costly, too many drops, data limits, ridiculous customer service, etc.

  5. The watch launch was very impressive – prior to that I didn’t think they could come up with anything that could redefine the watch (that is, I couldn’t come up with much when I ran the “what would I do?” exercise).

    I’ll likely hold onto my 5S for another 1-2 years. The 6 is fine but not enough to entice me to upgrade, but I expect the 7 or 8 certainly will. And it may take 1-3 years for Apple Pay to become ubiquitous.

    And that watch — can’t wait to see what version 3 will be. I expect that will be about the time that it becomes irresistible to me!

    1. The one single thing which may make Watch pay in many ways is the secure payment connection. Banks/card companies have a very high loss factor they would like to get rid of with secure payments as do retailers with employees who handle cash.

      No more fumbling for your wallet, change, cards, etc. along with an end to scammers scanning your cards when you’re not looking.

      During the flu season, or any pandemic, handling less money is one less vector handled.

      The other concept is letting a key person be able to give you a critical needed notification when you know you’ll need it whether for business or home use.

  6. Technology has emergent properties that even its designers can’t anticipate.

    Analysts take things apart to see how they work and the magic is destroyed in the process. Thus they learn nothing.

    They form assumptions and draw analogies from their experience and memory. Thus the new is incomprehensible.

    After the future has arrived, the miraculous becomes mundane.

    Thus the mind continues its endless reduction of wonder, caging each bird, naming it, and finally lamenting that nothing wild remains.

    Better to live as a child, a lifetime of discovery ahead of her, than as a wizened elder dwelling in the past.

  7. Here’s what I’m figuring right now. If I check out the iPhone 6 and it’s just too frakkin’ big to use one-handed, then I’ll probably pop that money down for an Watch. But if I like the 6, I cannot really see the need to lay down $350+ for another purchase on that day or even in the next year or so.

  8. I take it that only Apple pay for the watch will work when paired with the iPhone 6/+ and not for the iPhone 5 series since they don’t have the extra security chip for sorting the credit card info?

  9. I usually have little use for a watch, outside of some plastic Casio from the sporting goods store for $30. $40 tops.

    But this watch has me hesitating because of it other functions. I have scrawny wrists, so the smaller version might fit me better. I just hope it’s not too terribly chunky.

    1. Even having seen it I think we can’t imagine how it will be used. It depends so much on the implementation and popularity. If lots of people have them it is more interesting to have one yourself.

      I have a Pebble watch which I use outside the home. At home I don’t need a watch. I use the iPhone to check the time. When I’m in a noisy environment or speaking in front of a group then getting messages on my wrist is very helpful.

      My point is that this will be situational. We may think we don’t need it now but after it has come out and after developers produce apps many of us will find that it does really useful things.

  10. Every Android owner I know thinks that first to innovate is better and that good enough is good enough. Having said that, Apple was wrong about screen size for a large part of the market. But when they do get it right, they seem to get it righter.

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