The Media Are Wrong: the Apple Watch Will Sell Like Crazy
Most journalists aren’t impressed with the Apple Watch.
I’ve read most, if not all, of the Apple Watch reviews now – Engadget, Techcrunch, Mashable, CNBC, Bloomberg, the Verge, you name it.
Some of the reviews are mildly positive.
But mostly, the web is awash in criticism about the new Apple Watch.
If you listen to the media, it rates a big, fat “meh”.
For example, take a gander at these headlines:
After reading more than 20 reviews, it’s clear to me that most journalists haven’t owned and used a smart watch long enough to know what they’re talking about. Some get a free demo watch and test it for a week. Most of the rest play with it at an event for 5 minutes. Or not at all.
STF Up, Already.
Um, sorry. There’s no way you can judge a product that’s so personal and so intertwined with your life with just one week’s of use. Much less from a 5-minute demo.
The only way to know the truth is to use it for months, like I have.
I’ve owned my smart watch for more than a year and a half, so I can confidently tell you the thing that most tech journalists won’t, which is:
Apple is Going to Sell a Boatload of Watches.
Assuming it’s not a total dud, of course. But I seriously doubt Apple will ship a terrible product in 2015.
Once you own a truly functional smart watch (like my Pebble) for a few months, you’ll also understand why this is so easy to see.
Oh, yes, the Apple Watch will sell. And here’s how it will go down:
First, it will sell as a luxury/fashion statement. A lot of well-heeled people will buy it simply because it makes a public statement about themselves. It’s why many of us buy watches today, and the Apple Watch is no different. If this Elle review is any indication, Apple is off to a good start.
Then, months later, as we see the Apple Watch being used by higher income types and early adopters to pay for their Starbucks with a tap on the wrist… we’ll want one, too.
How I Learned To Predict The Future
It’s easy to do, when the future is already here.
The value of a smart watch is already clear to the million of us who own a good one.
For example, here are some Vine clips of real people using their smart watches in 24 time-saving ways. Note the number of makes and models in the clips – there aren’t that many.
So my argument isn’t based on some vague wish list or a high-brow academic complaint like,
What does a smart watch do that a phone doesn’t already do?
This is the most common argument that tech journalists are making against the smart watch category.
And it’s complete B.S. It shows how little they understand about the consumer technology business.
Smart Watches Are Better Than Smart Phones At Many Things
A smart watch doesn’t have to do anything ground breaking to make it valuable enough to sell like hotcakes. In fact, most consumer products that break the bank aren’t truly game-changing innovations.
No, a smart watch just has to do a few things better than the devices that came before it. Incremental change is what makes most products fly off the shelf.
And the best smart watches today handle quite a few tasks much better than a smart phone can, for example:
- reminders and alerts
- screening messages and calls
- paying for stuff (soon, with Apple Pay)
A good smart watch does these things so much better than a phone, that I have no doubt hundreds of millions will buy one like I did.
Problem is, the list of “good smart watches” is short. A lot of them are crap, in fact.
How I Know I’m Right
As one of the first people to own a Pebble, I’ve learned a lot about smart watches during the past 18 months.
I’ve learned that a smart watch can improve your life in three important ways:
1. My smart watch saves me time and frustration every single day.
My Pebble saves me time and makes my life easier in dozens of small ways.
Take alerts, for example. How many times a day do you get frustrated with all those unanswered buzzing alerts getting dropped into your pocket/coat/purse? I don’t deal with that anymore. Instead, my Pebble delivers them to all to my wrist – including stuff like:
- incoming calls
- cab is waiting outside
- traffic is heavy; take a detour
- flight is running late
- incoming SMS
- new email from wife/son/daughter/mother
- new email from customer
- CNBC stock alerts
- breaking news
- Life360 alerts (tracks my kids around town)
- social media replies from VIPs
- website is down!
- and many more.
The impact of glancing at my watch instead of pulling out my phone is that I spend less time fumbling about with my phone during the day.
I also spend less time reading emails and messages, because my watch focuses me on screening headlines and subject lines first, which is a good thing. Now, when I finally pull my phone out, I already know the messages I want to read.
Oh, and, that haptic feedback thing? Getting buzzed on the wrist is easier than having to reach into my pocket, enter my passcode and open my apps 20 times a day.
2. My smart watch has made me less of a geek in public – and improved my relationships.
Image-wise, owning a smart watch has had the opposite effect of what most people think. I’ve gotten so accustomed to waiting for alerts to hit my wrist that I take my phone out a LOT less. I often don’t pull it out as often as my daughter’s vball coach – during a game. This has had a positive effect on the people around me.
My wife noticed this recently and thanked me for changing my awful restaurant habits. I didn’t even know I had changed ;-)
This solves a big problem that a lot of people suffer from today.
3. My smart watch is fun
The apps and watch face selections coming out all the time are fun to test and to play with. Just like the iPhone, in that respect.
Games aren’t nearly as fun on a watch, though (as they currently exist).
My bet is that the Apple Watch will improve on these 3 benefits. It will certainly make them better looking.
Apple Pay Is The Killer App
If the press has been waiting for a killer smart watch feature, then I think Apple Pay is it.
The Apple Watch adds a new 4th reason to buy a smart watch: Apple Pay. It could be the game-changer that lights this market up (yeah, I know, but it’s true in this case).
4. I can pay for stuff with a wave of my hand.
When I saw the Apple Pay demo, it was a revelation.
I mean, as a lifelong marketer and builder of new technologies, I’ve known this was coming for decades.
But to see it in action – and knowing that most of the major banks are behind it – was the dawn of a new era (for me).
The ability to tap my watch to pay for stuff is not only cool, it’s convenient as hell. Universally sexy, even.
While many will complain this is just showing off, well, so is buying Gucci. And so was buying an iPhone when it first came out.
Would you pay $350 for this?
So let’s recap. You pay Apple $350.
In return, Apple Watch helps you:
- save time
- improve your personal relationships
- pay for stuff with a tap on your wrist
- be more aware of events that matter in your life
- screen calls and messages more effectively
- look cool in public
- have more fun.
Yeah, I’d say Apple has a great shot at selling a boatload of Apple Watches.
Don’t Underestimate The Fashion Statement
Ultimately, the success of the Apple Watch will boil down to whether people are proud to wear one in public. It is a watch, after all.
This plays to Apple’s strengths. Apple is brilliant when it comes to leveraging fashion trends to sell their gear. They are masters at marketing new products by selling a drool-worthy luxury device to prosperous, fashionable people who others emulate. Then, the rest of us follow the trend.
This is exactly how they generated demand for the iPod, iPhone and iPad.
And the Apple Watch is the most public fashion statement that Apple has ever produced. By offering two sizes, three models and a wide range of straps and watch faces, Apple has prepared the Apple Watch well to succeed as a high-end fashion purchase.
So, unless it’s just a crap product (it doesn’t work as demo’d on stage, or too short on battery life), then my street-educated guess is that the Apple halo effect will be even more powerful, for Apple Watch.
OK, so that’s my argument for the Apple Watch. Either I’m crazy, or Tim Cook is right.
I know who I’m betting on – I just placed another buy order for Apple stock.
If you still think the Apple Watch is DOA, then why not put your money where your mouth is – and short against me?