Apple Watch frenzy

It is now a week since Apple's "Spring Forward" event. Many column inches have been filled with discussion about the new MacBook and the Apple Watch.

I'm going to add my 2 cents here, firstly about the Watch.

Watch as Fashion

The watch is an interesting product for Apple to make. With every other type of technology product that Apple makes, they create a well-designed object with a certain set of features at a certain price. If the features and the price match what a customer is looking for, Apple have made a sale. 

The watch is different because it isn't just a technology product but also a fashion product.

I would be happy owning an iPhone, even if everyone I know were to own one. It's a good phone and looks pretty good, but usually it's hidden in my pocket. But with a watch, I want something that reflects my own style. I don't want everyone else owning the same Apple Watch.

The buying decision for a watch differs from most other technology purchases for two reasons.

Firstly, the technology needs to be compelling but it also needs to be fashionable. If I don't like the look of it, I can buy something different, or nothing at all. It's about how it looks and how it feels to me. The Apple Watch seems to me to be a beautiful object (without having seen it in person) but some people will disagree and for them that will be a deal-breaker. I might buy an ugly phone but I won't buy an ugly watch.

The other reason for buying a watch is because I want something that is somewhat unique and is going to express my personality. I don't often wear a watch at the moment but when I did, I took enjoyment from knowing that my watch was fairly unique.

So, it needs to not be ugly and not be commonplace. Apple can only manage one of these.

Simply because of the vast number of companies selling watches there are few people wearing the same watch in any given place. The Apple Watch will not benefit from this uniqueness if it gains any mass-market following at all, and for a company like Apple, they are only going to sell a product to the product if they can sell millions or tens of millions of them. 

There are two sizes of case and six colours (two of which will be rather rare because of their price). These different styles are supplemented by about twenty different bands. Everything is well-designed and beautiful but it is still Apple's Watch with a single design, no matter which virtual watch face or wrist band is showing.

Paradoxically, because of fashion, the more popular the Apple Watch, the less popular it might be. "Nobody wears the Apple Watch any more, it's too popular".

But, never underestimate Apple

The past fifteen years have shown that it never pays to underestimate Apple.

The white earbuds were a global phenomenon with many other companies jumping on the bandwagon to sell their own white earbuds. The lit-up Apple logo on laptops has become the most commonly seen laptop out in public in my part of the world. 

If any company can turn a single watch design into a mass-market product, it could be Apple.

Swatch sold the same cheap watch printed with many different designs to millions of people. Why can't Apple do that with a virtual watch face? They might even sell unique watch bands matched to the virtual faces. A Mickey Mouse watch band might not be that far away.

I wrote above that I would like to own a unique watch and the Apple Watch won't be unique. However, I also thought that I wouldn't want to be part of an army wearing white earbuds but I was wrong about that.

But, Apple still haven't sold me a convincing story of why someone would want to buy an Apple Watch, or even what it will do for the average Joe. Why do I need a $500 accessory for my $700 phone? I expect that this story will come out once the initial reviews start hitting the streets. But why isn't Apple telling this story?

On reflection, maybe I'm just not the target audience for the watch. I get a few emails a day, and a few SMS messages and phone calls a week. I have turned off the notifications for many of my apps. I'm just not overwhelmed by notifications in my life right now.

It'll be interesting to see how the Apple Watch story plays out over time. Watch this space...