Year one of the Apple Watch

April 26th, 2016

In January I wrote:

The Apple Watch could be called a flop if it sold so poorly and customer demand or interest was so low that Apple totally shelved the project. But they haven’t. I’m willing to bet they made a lot of money on the Watch so far (far more than any of their competitors in the same space). And I’m willing to bet that in 2016-2017 Apple will double down on the Watch and make some incredible improvements to every piece of it.

Today Apple releases their quarterly earnings statement and while they won’t directly comment on the number of Watches sold — or how those numbers breakdown between the different styles of watch — analysts have backed into a figure that settles in around $6 billion dollars.

Flop? From now on I am classifying anyone willing to write the word flop into a headline about the Apple Watch as a clickbait artist, scammer, or moron. You’ve been warned. No matter how you frame it; a product earning $6 billion dollars (and I’d say it is likely that even with brand-new tooling to create these devices, and the R&D done that led up to it that the Watch was still profitable year 1) in its first year is not a flop. Of course people are making comparisons to Apple’s competitors in the smartwatch space and even in the traditional watch space (which I do not feel is a fair comparison). However, Apple smashed all of them in the revenue numbers game; see: Fitbit (by 3x), Rolex.

How much better could it possibly have done?

John Gruber takes a slightly more reasoned tone:

Apple Watch can’t be neatly summarized with a one-word description like “hit” or “flop”. It has some serious, deep flaws, but it has sold well — especially considering those flaws. And the people who own one tend to really like it.

I can agree with John — that the Apple Watch isn’t a runaway hit. And I don’t mean just sales. There are some design issues with the Watch and it certainly feels like a version 1. As did the iPhone.

Me, again, in a different post in January:

My wife has an Apple Watch. I’d call her a “light user” of the Watch. She wears it every day but mainly uses it for glancing at text messages. There are a myriad of other uses but, just like the original iPhone, they are a bit too slow to be fully useful yet. You can use them but you don’t very often because they are too slow.

Speed, is an issue on the Watch. But this is going to improve by several factors with each iteration.

Here is Gizmodo’s Casey Chan on something he doesn’t like about the Apple Watch; buttons:

First, I still don’t know what the buttons do. This is ridiculous (and probably very stupid on my part) because, well, there are only two buttons, the digital crown and the side button. Most of the times, pressing the digital crown acts like an iPhone home button. But sometimes it’s a back button (like when you’re in the Favorites contact screen). It gets more confusing because you can scroll through a list with the crown but you can never select, you have to tap the screen for that to work. Most of these things you eventually figure out, but these little inconsistencies just add to the frustration of using it.

I’ve only used the Apple Watch very sparingly as I don’t own one of my own. But I can agree. I’ve never been as confused using any Apple product as I was using the Watch the first time. I remember using the Mac for the first time and every single thing I wanted to accomplish turned out to be far easier than I thought it would be. The Watch needs to get to this point too. And if Apple sticks with it — and I think they will — then I think they will improve on it.

Even with these two main issues the customer satisfaction numbers are very high. Higher than first-gen iPhone or iPad. And, anecdotally, I’ve never talked to an Apple Watch owner that didn’t like theirs.

Rumors aside I’m sure the next Apple Watch will be faster, lighter, thinner, and hopefully a bit easier to grok. If they can do that, they’ll turn the Apple Watch into a massive hit by any comparison.

#, #, #