The Apple Watch — which represents Apple’s first major new device category in more than four years — is about to be unleashed upon the world — no doubt shortly after Apple reveals pricing and availability details at its special media event Monday.
Careful what you wish for.
While Apple enthusiasts like myself — and even far more rabid fans — have been pining for new products, Apple naysayers have been gleefully dissing Apple for not jumping into a major new device category.
Even as Apple sells more iPhones than ever, critics point to slowing iPad sales — as if slowing sales of the most dominant tablet were meaningful with Apple’s profits shooting skyward.
Now the Apple Watch is poised for greatness — or failure — and the basic messages that have been circulating in the tech press for months are being regurgitated through mainstream media.
All that hype is going to get worse — much worse. Brace yourself.
The rest of this year is going to be Apple Watch, Apple Watch, Apple Watch — like nothing that has come before.
For starters, this is not only Apple CEO Tim Cook’s big new device, but also famed SVP Jony Ive’s latest design. There is no way that Apple will let the Apple Watch flop.
Already Too Big to Fail?
While a profitable Apple Watch isn’t critical to Apple’s operating budget, a successful Apple Watch is critical to Apple’s street cred. Apple’s reputation stems in part from its genius in entering a product category when the time is ripe for success. Others may enter a product category first, but Apple is known for introducing and marketing a much better product.
If the Apple Watch isn’t much better, and if the Apple Watch doesn’t stoke fashion interest, then such a failure, right now, will have competitors and haters claiming that Apple has lost its mojo. Finally. For real this time. Gone.
No way is that going to happen. Why? First, I think there is pent-up demand for one watch that can meet the needs of many people in multiple social and personal situations, and those people — like me — are willing to bet on the Apple Watch. So it will, simply, sell millions of units and be a success.
What if sales are slow? What if response is tepid?
If the Apple Watch doesn’t immediately catch on, I believe that Apple will pour on a worldwide marketing blitz at a scale we’ve never seen before. We’re already seeing the Apple Watch on the slim wrists of fashion models — already seeing it in publications in China. The Apple Watch will be everywhere. It will appear in just about every mainstream print magazine in the U.S. It will be on every news channel. It will show up on fictional TV shows. It’s distinctive enough that when celebrities wear it, everyone will know what it is.
It will become ubiquitous because it is a fashion item as well as a device that promises to make your life better.
It has an underdog story, too. It’s not the first smartwatch, and it’s entering into a product segment that’s been largely ignored by the masses. Android smartwatches by other major tech manufacturers have failed to gain adoption. Also, Apple isn’t a watch maker — so how can some upstart from the tech sector compete with the tradition and skill of Switzerland?
The Apple Watch will be at once cool and a big leap forward for wearables — dominated by Apple, of course, but head-shakingly baffling to anyone who doesn’t really care about smartwatches for fashion, health or apps. Still, desire doesn’t always follow logic, and Apple already has a long and sustained onslaught of marketing planned to stoke desire in the Apple Watch.
It will happen through apps. It will happen through HomeKit and home automation. It will happen through a new Apple TV. It will eventually be the key that starts your car, the health monitor that can save your life. Through Apple Pay, it’s already capable of feeding you. Apple’s ambitions for the Apple Watch clearly will extend far beyond a messaging-capable timepiece.
Apple will convince non-watch wearers — like me — to keep wearing their Apple Watch. To keep using it. To keep living a better life.
This will be a sustained effort. After the initial release, the ecosystem will open up for developers, and accessory makers will get in on the action whether they are Apple-certified or not. Heck, one company is already planning an Apple Watch band that can charge the device while it’s being worn — essentially, it’s almost like a battery case for a watch.
So, buckle up, because if you don’t love the Apple Watch and what it means for personal computing — and fashion! — you’re going to have a hard time filtering out all the Apple Watch noise for months to come.