The Watch is going to drop today. I have no idea if it will succeed or not. Most likely it will as Apple has the “juice” right now and people follow along with whatever a hot company puts out, until of course they don’t.
But “succeed” is a bit open-ended. Let’s narrow that down.
Will it be profitable for Apple: No doubt
Will it be just a “hobby” like the Apple TV: Nah
Will it be about as big as the iPad: Probably
Will it be as successful as the iPhone: No way
Regardless of how it “succeeds” (again I think it will indeed be on the successful side of things, not the flop side) one thing that baffles me and could come back to bite Apple is the range of the launch products. There are just way too many product skews and far too many convoluted price breaks. Price breaks based solely on materials as well not what the watch can do or its processing power. That’s uncharted territory for Apple and it will be interesting to see if they can navigate in that space and more interesting if loyal Apple customers will embrace it or find it frustrating and confusing (I suspect the latter).
All previous Apple product launches were simple. And simple always trumps selection. Especially in a new product category.
When the iPhone rolled out there was ONE model. You paid more if you wanted more storage. That made perfect sense to people. Pay more get more. Same for the iPad. Same for MacBook Airs, etc, etc. Now Apple is shifting that approach. It feels wrong. And while I’ve learned to not bet against Apple and especially Tim Cook and Jonathan Ive, I’m worried they are going too far out on a limb here. I say this as a fan of Apple and someone that wants to see them succeed (full disclosure I own 0 Apple stock so this is not even a vested interest on my part – just a good design and great products should win love).
The thing I just can’t escape though is how the same exact Watch can span the price range of $349 to possibly over 10K. Remember the actual “watch/computer” is identical. Identical! Only the casing and materials change. Someone needs to explain how this is any different than the ridiculously absurd Vertu gold and diamond encrusted phones. It’s still just a phone. And in Apple’s case it’s still just a watch. Yes, there is the fashion and ego play here. That makes sense, but that only puts it MORE in the Vertu camp – the “I’m rich and I want you to know I’m rich so why you paid $349 for your Watch I paid $10,000”. If that’s the case, put me in the poor, confused why would anyone pay that much camp.
Take my personal opinion out of it. The folks that would pay that much for an Watch are an incredibly small few (ok, China makes that bigger, sure). That’s just not Apple. Apple is here’s an iPhone. It’s the best phone in the world and anyone can afford it. That’s what keeps me scratching my head with the Watch approach.
If Apple’s right they’re gonna be really right. And their fanboi’s will rejoice. If they’re wrong they’re gonna look silly.
So will I get an Apple Watch? I really don’t know. It depends on what it can actually do, do I want it enough to pretend like I need it, and how does it feel on my wrist. I’m a bad target market though as I don’t like watches very much and rarely wear one. And the whole “status symbol” a nice watch portrays was always lost on me (I rather take several vacations! haha). Regardless, if I ever do buy one I would never pay more than the entry level price.