Ben Thompson: Apple Watch is being serially underestimated

“I can’t quite shake the feeling that the Apple Watch is being serially underestimated,” Ben Thompson writes for Stratechery. “Nor, I think, is the long term threat to Apple’s position being fully appreciated.”

“Success isn’t guaranteed: the ability of a watch, or in this case the Apple Watch, to enable a new area of continuous computing depends on three factors: The physical design of the Watch; the interaction model for the Watch; the ability of the Watch to interact with its environment,” Thompson writes. “Apple and its competitors’ ability to deliver on each of these factors will determine whether the category ends up being a nice side business to phones, or the next step in the trend towards ever smaller and ever more convenient personal computers. And, for what it’s worth, after a few weeks with the Apple Watch, I’m increasingly bullish that it is the latter.”

“I do think there will be a bifurcation when it comes to the Watch’s relative importance vis-à-vis the smartphone between developed and developing countries: in the long run I do think that convenience trumps all, but there’s no denying a smartphone is already pretty darn convenient,” Thompson writes. “To put it another way, if you can afford it I do think that there is a sufficient delta between Watch and iPhone functionality to make the former worth owning despite its dependence on the latter. I also think that when the Watch inevitably gains cellular functionality I will carry my iPhone far less than I do today. Indeed, just as the iPhone makes far more sense as a digital hub than the Mac, the Watch will one day be the best hub yet.”

Read more in the full article – highly recommended – here.

MacDailyNews Take: Thompson gets it. If you don’t understand why anyone would wear an Apple Watch or even if you wear an Apple Watch all day long as we do, read the full article.

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


    1. Why anybody would forecast more than 8 Million Apple Watches sold during its launch year (fiscal) is beyond me. Then to revise estimates downward and attribute the lower estimate to “slowing demand” is just plain nuts.
      Consider that Apple’s most successful product launch, the iPad, sold fewer than 8 Million units in it launch year (fiscal), and this with a product having a clear use case (not nearly so clear with the Apple Watch).
      iPad launch sales by quarter:
      FQ3/2010 Units sold 3,270,000
      FQ4/2010 Units sold 4,188,000 QoQ growth rate 28.07%
      Total iPad Units Sold Fiscal Year 2010: 7,458,000.
      Keep in mind that the Apple Watch launched 3 weeks later (April 24 vs April 3) than did the iPad.
      Should Apple sell 15 Million Apple Watches this fiscal year (as Kuo has LOWERED his estimate to) there would be no way to describe the Apple Watch as anything other than an unmitigated success, “slowing demand” or not.

    2. This is the BEST article about WATCH I have read to date. Everyone take the time to read it. He goes into great detail about the evolution of computing both macro and personal to explain the WATCH role in history. Outstanding!💥🎉👀⌚️😀😍❤️🚀

    1. Likely he did. He means the reviewers are serially underestimating Apple Watch, as in: “one after the other.” It makes sense when you read Thompson’s full article.

    2. The author has an apparent serially-occurring problem of utilizing more extraneously complicated language than specifically required within any given sentence.

  1. I’ve had my 42mm, Space Gray Sport Apple Watch for 8 days now, and each day I wear it, I appreciate it more.

    Rather than try to get into everything the watch does at once, I am giving myself time to become acquainted with the watch and its features.

    The build quality of Apple Watch is superb. I wear it everywhere I go, and battery life is not even close to being an issue.

      1. Everything Apple does gets deliberately serially underestimated by some analyst or pundit. If it were any other company, either nothing would be said about it or there would be positive estimates. When Apple does it, any claims will be towards the failure side. The Apple detractors are likely trying to halt Apple’s momentum or they simply don’t have a clue about consumers’ likes and dislikes.

        I’ve never heard one call about the Microsoft Band being successful or not. I don’t know if they’re selling plenty or only a few. It’s like the Microsoft Band doesn’t exist. But with AppleWatch every jackass and his mother on the planet has some genius prediction based on almost nothing. I think it will take quite a while to form any trend of success or failure. To call AppleWatch a failure at this point is just plain stupid. I don’t think any new product can be guaranteed as a success. Apple will simply have to keep working on marketing and we’ll see what happens as time goes by. I believe Apple knows how to sell products, so I’m sure they’ll give it their best shot to turn AppleWatch into a desired product.

  2. I have been using my apple watch for several weeks also, and I totally agree. The shift will continue to smaller and smaller mobile devices. I don’t know if my watch will ever become my phone, exactly, but it certainly has already changed the way I use my phone. I think we are moving towards a square thing in your pocket that is the computing hub, the watch is the mobile way to communicate with it. When you need a desktop, your pocket computer seamlessly connects to monitors with keyboards that become your desktop. Walk away and you still have all your stuff. The watch with a link to your phone works great – and time will tell what functions are best to be done on just the watch. This is fun stuff – and you really feel like you are living in the future the first time you answer a call on your wrist!

  3. Apple watch =
    Taptic Rocks
    Activities Rocks
    Comunication rocks ( notifications and messaging )
    (Practical for 90% of immidiate and quick communications )
    Navigation rocks …
    Etc… So much good on so many levels !

    1. My wife is – or rather ‘was’, hugely complaining about the cellular network around our new house on the coast, here in the UK…it’s utter crap. But for almost a week now, it’s been blessedly quiet since her Watch arrived – she now knows instantly when the network is up, via notifications.
      Add Magic to the list.

  4. Didn’t you know, people are breaking down doors to get an Apple Watch.

    They’re going for thousands of dollars on eBay. People are already camping out in front of stores a month early, just waiting for stock to be available.

    It’s already being hailed as Apple’s greatest product since the iPhone. Users are finding them indispensible and can’t stop using it for even a few seconds.

    It does tons of things that other smartwatches and health devices can’t do. There are thousands of killer apps that expand it’s functionality, and developers are swamped by app demands.

    Then there’s reality “cue crickets in the background”… fade to black.

    1. It’s like some Twilight Zone or Harlan Ellison story…(below which I imagine to to the extreme):

      Imagine a product (an omnithing that can do anything) and company so successful that the manufacturing chain cannot keep up. Imaging a cascading effect as each supplier cannot meet demand and Apple demands higher and higher component discounts, which the suppliers submit to but one by one they all go out of business which ripples outward to other industries. A company or product so successful it locks up all logistics, all manufacturing, freezes demand for everything else. Remember the real fear Apple was going to consume the majority of the world’s gold? Only the omnithing can manufacture more omnithings enough. Then the world is consumed and eventually consists only of them. (Like grey goo scenario).

      Fun to imagine. And we are not far off.

  5. In the beginning there was one great big “computer” that filled a large air conditioned room. Each device (accessory) connected to it required a dedicated physical port.

    Then came the mini-main frames that required physical connectivity ports, then rack mounts and so on until we got down to the personal computer, all requiring physical connectivity ports to support devices and networks.

    It wasn’t that long ago that my Mac actively utilized:
    10BaseT ethernet port
    Fax/Modem port
    Printer port
    Scanner port
    Keyboard port
    Mouse port
    Speaker port
    Video I/O port

    Wiring was a messy nightmare.

    Today, my iMac uses an AC power port, and USB to sync iiPhone/iPad. Everything else is wireless (WiFi or Bluetooth, but the concept remained the same – a computer at the center controlling everything connected to it.

    Its no stretch of the imagination to see a wrist device controlling operation of home appliances, home environment systems and personal transportation. Of all the wearables on the market today, or the foreseeable future, only the Apple Watch has the ability to assume the role of mobile hub.

      1. Do you have something concrete to say? Or do you think “fuggin’ sucks” constitutes a useful contribution?

        Also, I hope you do realize that you are in a tiny minority with that opinion. Sounds like Ballmer about the iPhone.

        1. You comparing the iPhone to the Apple Watch…

          * Like comparing Steve Jobs to Tim Cook

          * Like comparing Macy Gray to a vocalist

          * Like comparing a Fiat to a real car

          * Like comparing Mel Gibson to a human being

          I think you can see where I’m going here.

      2. Since you hate your Apple Watch so much do you want to sell it?

        Oh, wait, you don’t have one do you?

        Such a sad angry little person – all over something you have no direct knowledge of.

        Have you even seen or touched an Apple Watch?

        Opinions are worthless. Informed opinions are valuable.

  6. Of course the Apple Watch is being underestimated; It’s an Apple product. Apple products have ALWAYS been underestimated, and always WILL BE underestimated. The world is comprised largely of stupid people. So what else is new?

  7. My Apple Watch is far better than I expected. Apple has hit a home run with this product. My wife, who tends to be lukewarm at best to tech, including the iPhone, has fallen in love with her watch. This Christmas they will not be able to keep them in stock.

  8. I’m LOVING my new Apple Watch!

    Anyone who owns one can see their being sold in pairs to couples, especially. Anyone with imagination knows that teens will be all over communicating with each other using taptics, once the experience spreads. Anyone who knows anything about Holiday gift giving knows this will be the big-hit product of Christmas, 2015. Anyone who follows Ben Thompson and his podcasts knows that Ben is one of the top, best positioned analysts out there (in part by knowing the Chinese market by being based in Taiwan, and in part by having worked at both Microsoft and Apple).

  9. Anyone wearing a pair of Beats headphones can afford it. The watch is the ultimate cellphone (smartphone) accessory, and that is a proven market. Stop spazzing out about the watch – I promise you the watch makes James Bond / Dick Tracey / Star Trek watch/communicators look and sound primitive.

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