By Rich W Woods
I was extremely bullish on the Apple Watch when it was first announced. I loved the Samsung Gear Live and later the Moto 360 and later the Microsoft Band. I’m an early adopter. I like new gadgets. Smart watches are made for folks like me. The most expensive smart watch I bought was Motorola’s Moto 360. The Apple Watch would start at $349, but you expect to pay a premium with Apple, right? And you get a premium product for it
Then they launched the Apple Watch a week ago and gave us a whole month before we would see it in stores and another two weeks until they would sell them, giving us tons of time to speculate if it would succeed. After last Monday, I realized that the Apple Watch could certainly fail. $349 is a premium; however, if you’re a man, you probably want the larger size, which starts at $399. The Apple Watch Sport looks cheap, so you probably want the Apple Watch, which starts at $549 or $599, depending on the size; however, even that one comes with a Sport band, so for a decent looking Apple Watch, you’re paying $649 or $699, depending on the size. Now that’s a bit too much of a premium, especially when given Apple’s history, there will be much more value in the second generation product.
But I’ve been over all this. In fact, everyone has been over this. Apple is a company that is in the crosshairs of every tech news outlet all the time, which is often something that keeps them honest. If you buy a Surface Pro 3 and the salesman tell you it gets nine hours of battery life, you get around six. Maybe you could stretch it out to nine if you used it for very light computing. A MacBook Air gets 12 hours of battery life and you get 12 hours, because if a MacBook Air only provided 11 hours of battery life with the heaviest of computing, we would all be talking about #PowerGate or #BatteryGate.
The scope of this editorial is not to discuss whether or not the Apple Watch will fail. The scope of this editorial is to discuss what happens if the Apple Watch does in fact fail.
Apple is in the crosshairs now more than ever. Ever since Steve Jobs passed, we have been hearing about how Apple cannot innovate anymore. For the most part, Tim Cook had been riding Steve Jobs coattails. Two and a half years ago, we saw the birth of a mini iPad, a product that is already failing, although that’s hardly a new product category.
Heading into 2014, I was right up there with everyone predicting the doom of Apple, something that we all hear about too much. Back then, it was reasonable. iOS 7 was a dud, we were all screaming about how iOS is such a locked down environment, and iPhone users were leaving in droves for Android. They made up for it with all of the customization and continuity features of iOS 8, a larger iPhone, and a more powerful iPad, and possibly the biggest news, their first new product since the death of Steve Jobs, the Apple Watch.
It has been some time now since we’ve heard about the doom of Apple because Steve Jobs is no longer with them. If the Apple Watch is a dud, will we hear them again?
The short answer is yes, of course we will hear it again. Every tech blog in the world loves an “Apple is Doomed” story they can publish. Hell, I’m doing it right now.
Just look at BendGate. A couple idiots bought a 6.9 mm thick aluminum phone, sat on it, and the world went nuts. Someone made a video of himself bending an iPhone and he looked like he was going to pop a blood vessel, and surely enough, that was proof enough for everyone that the iPhone 6 was poorly made. Want more proof? Check out an Android forum. They’re full of people just searching for reasons to bash Apple.
In the long term, it is not going to matter. It will be another BendGate. If the Apple Watch is a flop, they’ll lower the prices and they’ll sell. After all, people are going to buy these things eventually. We still live in a world where people don’t know why they need a smart watch. It’s the same as when the iPod came out and everyone said, “I don’t need that. I have my discman.” or when the iPhone came out and everyone said, “I don’t need that. All I do is talk and text.” or when the iPad came out and everyone said, “I don’t need that. It can’t do anything my smart phone and my laptop can’t do.” There was a time when everyone used pocket watches, and then everyone realized it’s easier to look at the time on your wrist.
Apple has five million of these things sitting in stores waiting to be sold. What happens if they only sell a million? Most people buy the base model. They buy the 16 GB iPhone or the 16 GB Wi-Fi only iPad, sometimes of the last generation. I think they might go into an Apple Store because they’re thinking of buying an Apple Watch, look at what they can get for $349, and walk out.
What happens if they actually have to report a loss on these things? Will they try to bundle it in with accessories? Or will they bundle it in with “iOS devices”? What happens if, on their next earnings call, they actually say, “We made five million of these things and we sold 20% of that, resulting in a 400 million dollar loss”?
Only time will tell, but the real game changer will be if Google makes Android Wear compatible with iOS, because a Moto 360 is a hell of an alternative to an Apple Watch Sport.