Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Flop Unlike Any Other

M.G. Siegler (via John Gruber):

Last year, Rolex did $4.5 billion in sales. A solid year for the premium watchmaker. Of course, it was no Apple Watch. That business did roughly $6 billion in sales, if industry estimates are accurate.

John Gruber:

It’s a misconception that what Apple does best is unveil mind-blowing new products. What Apple does best is iterate year after year after year — exactly what Apple Watch needs.

Craig Mod:

I sold mine after a month and have never — not for even one microsecond — reconsidered or desired the Apple Watch

Casey Chan:

I bought the Apple Watch a year ago. I stopped wearing it two months ago, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever wear it again. That’s because it doesn’t really do anything that anyone needs, and even when it does, it doesn’t always work like it’s supposed to.


Wearing the Apple Watch for nearly a year did change something in me though, but it’s the opposite effect that was probably intended: the Watch’s constant low-level notifications made me realize that there’s nothing really worth being notified about. Being able to feel every text, email, and whatever else, made me see how useless they mostly were. I used to joke that wearing a watch is handcuffing yourself to time. Wearing an Apple Watch (or any smartwatch, really), doubles down on that by locking you in a barricade of notifications too. So I’ve taken the Apple Watch off and don’t know when I’ll put it back on. The Watch isn’t at all worth it, but I’m not sure it’s even possible to make a smartwatch that I, or any reasonable non-tech nerd, would need. The more ambitious a smartwatch gets, the more complicated it is to use.

John Gruber:

“When do I use which button and what do the buttons do?” needs to be obvious for the Apple Watch to truly feel Apple-y. And it fails. The longer I own mine the more obvious it is that Apple dropped the ball on the buttons[…] My hope is that Apple does more than just make the second generation watch faster/thinner/longer-lasting, and takes a step back and reconsiders some of the fundamental aspects to the conceptual design.

David Smith:

Yesterday was the one year anniversary of the launch of the Apple Watch. It is a device that has had a profound impact on my life both personally and professionally. The Apple Watch I received on launch day is still firmly on my wrist each day (notably with barely a scratch).


I remember being rather skeptical of Apple’s original marketing of the Apple Watch as “our most personal device ever”, but a year later I must say that it would be a hard case to make that something that has been physically attached to me for 83% of my life is anything other than personal.

Kirk McElhearn:

I wouldn’t say that the Apple Watch is essential, and I think Apple greatly oversold its abilities, which has led many people to be underwhelmed. I also think it was priced too high, which has led Apple to drop the price, and led to sales in a number of retail outlets, something that isn’t common with Apple products. But I choose to put mine on every day.

Nick Heer:

Calgary is in the middle of a recession, but I have also seen a lot more Apple Watches lately while on my commute, on the pathway system, or on the streets. There’s a lot that I’m hoping for, both in software and in hardware, but as far as “failures” or “flops” are concerned, the Watch is a long way off, and the potential is huge.

Update (2016-04-28): Joe Cieplinski:

Apple obviously thought that sending little hand-drawn pictures was a big enough feature to warrant a dedicated hardware button. Perhaps now, armed with a year of data, they can reassess that decision in the next update to the OS. If you never put a product into the hands of real people, you can’t learn anything about how people will use it and what they’ll want from it.


The Watch is flawed, no doubt. Just like the original iPad, the iPhone, the iPod, and the Mac were before it. But there’s no question in my mind, one year into wearing this thing every day, that it’s a device that has a bright future. The vast majority of Apple customers will never witness these growing pains. They will buy version four or five. Don’t let your early adopter frustrations cloud your perspective on how most people view these products in the long run.

Update (2016-04-29): John Gruber:

Did you know there are games for Apple Watch? My favorite: launching any app and seeing if anything other than a spinner appears on screen.

Update (2016-05-03): Ole Begemann:

The one thing that’s holding the watch back the most at the moment is speed. I’m not sure the next version will make a huge performance leap (remember, the iPhone 3G wasn’t faster than the original iPhone), but performance will surely improve dramatically over time. It will be interesting to see where the watch stands on that front in two or three years.

I think it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t wear my Apple Watch anymore if it weren’t for the activity tracking. But that feature alone has hooked me to an extent that I will probably buy the next model. I may be better off with a cheaper fitness tracker, but now that I’m kind of locked into Apple’s fitness metrics I’ll probably stick with it.

Update (2016-05-09): See also: The Talk Show. John Gruber speculates that the Apple Watch Edition will not be updated and that it existed at all because “Tim Cook wanted to make Jony happy.”

Update (2016-05-20): John Gruber:

Posit: The things on Apple Watch that people actually like and use are the things that aren’t slow (notifications, activity tracking and goals, Apple Pay, complications, maybe Glances) and the things that are slow are the things people don’t use (apps, especially). Apple should have either cut the slow features from the original product, or waited to launch the product until all the features were fast.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

I am still seeing a lot of them. I was an early critic but was surprised with one at Christmas. Unexpectedly I love it and wear it every day.

I suspect the backlash of the past few months was created by unrealistic expectations. Nothing could have lived up to the hype. Apple did the product no favors by making it seem like the greatest thing - the next iPod or iPhone. It's not. It's a nice little accessory probably not quite worth the price but worth having if you have the money.

Same as Clark: I got a Watch for development purposes and had low expectations based on reading about it. But I really like it. I don't really use any apps except the Workout app. In the end, though, the Watch remains an expensive extension of iPhone and I don't know that i would spend that much money personally just for this extension.

Seems like the people defending the sales numbers are guilty of moving the goalpost a little bit. I remember Gruber predicting (or maybe implying, possibly via the "PC guys are not going to just figure this out - they’re not going to just walk in" line) that the Apple watch would affect watch manufacturers in the same way the iPhone has effectively killed Nokia, Palm and Blackberry. I guess it's still possible that it will, but so far, it doesn't seem to be on track to do that.

It's true that the watch is doing well for Apple, and most likely was very much worth doing, but it also seems to me that the initial expectations weren't that it would be doing well, but that it would have a much larger impact.

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