Editor’s Note: This post is a counterpoint to AKHIA Copywriter Jess Forrester’s take on the Apple Watch last week.
There’s no doubt that Apple creates invaluable buzz with every launch event, announcement and update. All Tim Cook (and previously, Steve Jobs) needs to do is open his mouth and it is headline news within the technology community, and likely the mainstream news cycle at large.
But to understand the full impact of an Apple announcement, I focus on the meaning of the technology and how it changes the landscape of the industry versus how fashionable or desirable it is.
Why? Because the numbers have shown over and over again that when Apple launches a product, it sells. It may sell to a mass market or may only reach a niche, but the numbers don’t lie. In the case of the Apple Watch, it may very well only reach a niche—and in fact, I would suggest that the initial launch will appeal to the hardcore Apple fans, dedicated technology gurus and folks with money burning holes in their pockets.
I’m not sure which category Jess would fit into if she would choose to purchase the Watch, but I would place myself at an intersection of Apple fan and tech guru. And I’d further suggest that those audiences have a focus of either checking out the cool new toy or trying to discern how it may impact the wearables and wristwatch category as a whole.
Without doubt, every major watch-focused professional, timepiece blog and other aficionados of Swiss craftsmanship have noted that they don’t believe the Apple Watch will eat into their sales or change the way someone feels about their high-end, non-smart watch. And I don’t believe they should change their tune. There is a clear difference between a classic and a new, modern disruptor. I would propose that until the value and need outweigh all of the objections, they won’t consider the Watch a worthy replacement.
In the same vein, Apple has made it tempting to ignore the Apple Watch. With multiple case sizes, finishes and band options, those that love the classics could at least check it out and likely not feel like much of a traitor to their legacy brands. Is that enough? Probably not, but it’s a start.
I think the evolution and potential changing of the tides will occur when Apple can not only account for more individuality (size of the person, size of the watch they want, color, etc.), but finds a way to make the price a non-factor. The other killer feature they likely need to account for (for true mass adoption) is how to make it independent of an iPhone. They may be able to leave some advanced functionality to rely on another iOS device, but if they can get a lot of the core functions to work sans-iPhone, they may have a winner.
The tech/nerd audience type (myself) will buy this iteration of the Apple Watch, and maybe the next. Sure, we may also care about the appearance, but likely are buying it to try it out, see how it impacts, improves or detracts from our daily lives.
My guess is that Apple has a hit on its hands—but not with this version. It needs some refinements. But I feel it is far ahead of its competitors and will do what Apple has truly set out to do—change the way we think about the wearables and “smart” industry as a whole.
Michael Schwabe is Director of Digital Strategy at AKHIA.