Have no fear, my friends, if you were disappointed then, you’ll be more so over the next few weeks and months. Apple hasn’t said just yet how many Watch models were sold over the launch weekend, but it’s obvious demand was high (but we don’t know how high) and supply was low (but we don’t know how low).
Strangest Launch Ever
Here’s the problem Apple has created. Great expectations. We early adopter-buyer-customers are used to standing in line, chatting up with fellow believers, all in eager anticipation of walking out of the Apple Store with the latest.
Those days are gone. For now, Apple wants customers to buy the Watch online, and pick it up at the nearest store when it arrives. What? You’re buying without trying? For now, even trying on an Apple Watch requires an appointment at the nearest store.
Apple’s entire lead up to Watch is unique among the company’s many new products. Lots of TV commercials set up a fever pitch, matched only by the details Apple offered about the Watch on the company’s website; screaming in videos and lush photos.
Apple Stores got a bit of a facelift. Employees received new training. App developers were asked to develop Watch apps for a product they could not buy to try. What you need to know about Watch is this. Watch is Apple’s most personalized product ever. There is no killer app, or even a use case or value proposition because Watch is special.
It’s a watch. But it’s an extension of your iPhone and the Apple ecosystem of notifications. Chances are you’ll need to tame which apps notify you via the watch and how, otherwise, the haptic buzzes might cause a skin irritation on your wrist.
It’s a stylish watch, but unlike Mac, iPhone, and iPad, each of which has a mere handful of options (size, memory, storage, color, etc.), Watch has tens of thousands of options (alright, I didn’t count them all, but the number of case and band combinations are mind numbing; same thing). Unlike Mac, iPhone, and iPad, devices which we know well, Watch is unique in that we want to try it on before buying, we want to mix and match bands, we need to see how it feels and looks– all in ways far different from Apple’s previous products.
It’s a complicated watch, too, with unique new controls that don’t really equate to anything we’ve used on Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Even the touchscreen is different. Force Touch feels like you’re receiving a vibrating acknowledgement that you’ve, well, touched the screen. That’s new, and it’s incredibly cool.
In fact, new navigation options aside, I’m willing to go out on a limb and state that person-to-person Watch communication will be a very big deal by the end of the year. Select a friend, spouse, or co-worker on the screen, then tap the screen and they feel on their Watch what you tapped. Morse Code, anyone?
I don’t know what percentage of iPhone customers bought iPads, but with 400-million iPhones currently in use, and nearly 200-million iPads in use, Apple’s ecosystem is alive and well, and now there’s a new toy. Do the math. If 2-percent of Apple’s iPhone user base buys a Watch in the next year, 8-million units will get sold. Or, more than all the other smartwatches and luxury watches sold in the world. Combined.
It’s a difficult watch to buy because it’s a totally new product and requires plenty of handholding, a little extra time and instruction, and Apple has so many hundreds of millions of customers that there’s just not enough room in all the Apple Stores for the crowds. If you want to see a Watch and try it on, you’ll need to make an appointment. If you want to buy a Watch, you’ll need to do that online (Apple might be willing to make an exception if you want the $17,000 Watch Edition model). That’s a totally different shopping experience for Apple and their customers.
Starting at $349 and moving quickly to $1,000, prices for Watch and bands bridge the gap between the common brands for common folk below $400, and the start of the luxury watch lines at $400 (where most of the watch industry makes its profits). Watches in general are male or female designs and sizes. Apple Watch design is gender neutral and only two sizes are available, but don’t think that limits the appeal or the variety.
Initial Watch reviews from actual users and reviewers are somewhat mixed; most love it and consider it a finely designed and well crafted device, that’s also a bit buggy, and has limited use scenarios, other than as a way to bring many more subtle yet annoying notifications into your life. Don’t worry about what the nattering nabobs of negativity write about Watch. The customer knows best, and Apple seems to know what customers like, want, and are willing to pay a premium to obtain.
But now you have to wait in line.