We won’t know the true number of sales of the Apple Watch until Apple releases official data in the Fall, but even if recent poor sales figures are correct; the Apple Watch is far from a flop.
Earlier this month MarketWatch reported that sales of the new Apple Watch have plunged by 90% since the opening week. This report was based on data from the commerce firm Slice Intelligence, which maintains that Apple “has been selling fewer than 20,000 watches a day since the initial surge in April, and on some days fewer than 10,000.”
The huge drop in sales is based the fact that almost a million watches were preordered the first day the smartwatch was released for sale online. But keep in mind, as Business Insider reported, Apple managed to sell more Apple Watches in a single day than the number of Android Wear smartwatches sold in an entire year, also reported by Slice.
Why the Sales Drop?
There could be many factors contributing to the decrease in Apple Watch sales. For one, the watch is not a standalone device or phone, and not everyone wants an expensive wearable device when their phone provides most if not all of the features they need.
Another factor is the fact that the Apple Watch is new, and most people are simply not sure why they need it, or if it’s worth the $400-$1000 for yet another gadget. This is basically twice as much as a subcontracted iPhone costs. One of the reasons I went with the Sports Edition is because I wanted to see how comfortable and usable the watch would be without having to pay more than base price for the device.
Though the Apple Watch is as pleasing in its design as Apple’s other portable devices, it still doesn’t meet the fashion and “bling-bling” standards of many watch wearers. As an example, the popular Black Sports edition looks like a iPod nano when the watch face is not showing. This could be true for smartwatches as a whole — I personally find the Pebble Smart Watch to be quite ugly, and I admit that the Apple’s signature design was indeed a purchasing factor for me.
Other users have problems with navigating the user interface of the watch. No matter which size and version of the watch, for many users the screen is not big enough for using some of its features.
But even with these issues, I still think the Apple Watch has great potential, and like my colleague Jackson, I too have been won over by the watch.
It Will Succeed, If…
If the success of the Apple Watch means matching the quarterly sales of some 37+ million iPhones, it’s pretty obvious that the watch won’t meet that quota. It’s too small and not ergonomically practical to be a phone, but as a daily wearer (48 days at time of this writing), I’m convinced that the watch is a useful and practical addition for iPhone users — provided they know and understand how to make the device beneficial to their daily activities.
When Apple first introduced the watch, I like many people wondered why I would need a watch when I have an iPhone. Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t worn a watch in over ten years. But then I started to realize how many times a day I was picking up my phone to check messages and calendar appointments, view time and weather data, and to get other notifications.
I will admit being an avid Apple user — for well over twenty years — also contributed to my purchasing the watch. However, I decided before buying it that would I absolutely return it if I didn’t find it useful. Just like I replaced my wallet with my iPhone, I was not eager to own yet another item or gadget which I would have to carry around, charge and maintain just for the sake of it. For me, the watch had to be more than a watch.
And that’s precisely what the Apple Watch is. It’s more than a watch. It’s extension of the iPhone — a very useful extension, especially if you’re an active user of the device. The Apple Watch fits well into the Apple ecosystem, despite some of its shortcomings.
If you like wearing an analog watch for keeping time, replacing your existing timekeeper with the Apple Watch literally puts more features at arms reach. If you don’t like pulling out or looking for you iPhone to check messages and other notifications, the Apple Watch greatly reduces that need.
The Apple Watch has potential to succeed also because it — like other smartwatches — will become the most portable device for smart technology users.
It seems unlikely that the watch can ever be fully detached from the phone. But it is true that it in some cases it can be used independent of the iPhone (like Apple Pay, the Music app and the activity tracker), which make for even greater potential use.
Notifications Are Key
The Apple Watch clicked for me when I finally figured out which notifications I needed to get on my watch. Unfortunately, many were at first put off by the barrage of notifications arriving on their watch, but these can be customised to provide just enough information to be useful without making you feel overwhelmed.
For example, I have enabled notifications for emails, but only for VIPs. When I did this, it caused me to review and filter the people on my VIP list to include only people I needed to receive alerts from on my watch. In essence, the Apple Watch has forced me to improve my email workflow — and I’m more likely to see important alerts because they’re on my wrist.
I have disabled Goal Completions, mainly because I have developed an excercise habit of my own, so I don’t need to receive those notifications. On the other hand, I keep Stand Reminders on, because I don’t normally get up from my desk as much I should.
I enabled watch notifications for more than a dozen other apps (including Meetup.com, OminFocus, PayPal, Pill Monitor, Slack, Kik and Twitterific), which are more practical and less obtrusive to receive via my watch than on my iPhone, especially when the latter is not readily accessible.
It was not until the first iPad mini that my wife realized the benefits of using an iPad. iPads don’t match the sales of iPhones, but that doesn’t stop them from being widely purchased. Just as the iPad has gotten thinner, faster, and better with each new version, the Apple Watch will get better as well. So even if you don’t see sense in purchasing one yet, you may do further down the line.
Even while waiting for watchOS 2.0 to add some exciting new features, there other benefits that — for me — make the watch a success. Things like navigating music and podcasts (while walking or driving), reading and sending short text messages, viewing upcoming calendar events, adding reminders via Siri and a to-do app like Due, using Apple Pay, and even showing off a few favorite photos on the watch.
Sure these features are available on the iPhone, but the watch makes them more accessible. Not a week goes by that I don’t actually answer a phone call on my watch, and in most cases the audio is plenty loud enough for me to hold a conversation.
The battery life of the Apple Watch has never been an issue for me. I simply drop the watch on my watch stand, and in about an hour it’s fully charged. I once went almost two days without recharging before the watch hit power reserve mode. For some this will be a major drawback, but it’s likely this too will improve with each new revision.
Watch This Space
As I conclude writing this article, Splice Intelligence now reports that Apple sold more 3 million units in the first three months since the release of the smartwatch in late April, with an average price of $505.
With the new and improved features coming in watchOS 2, sales should remain steady as potential users begin to see the benefits of wearing a personal device instead of just caring one around in their pocket or purse.
I have no doubt that years years from now I will be still wearing an Apple Watch. But we’d love to know what you think of its longevity.
Have you kept or returned your Apple Watch? What’s stopping you buying one?