Thanks to a string of hot products since the turn of the century, Apple has become the darling brand of technology, the world’s most profitable company, and a large and growing target for competitors and critics.
Apple Watch was announced last year and just started shipping this spring. Technorati elite and market critics have trouble figuring out the value proposition, or why anyone would need a $350 smartwatch that does mostly what other, less expensive smartwatches already do. That kind of thinking is wrong.
When Wants Become Needs
What’s the basic value proposition for a watch? To tell time dependably and accurately, regardless of activity. And, for others to look good. Time is the need. Fashion is the want. Many watches, particularly those of the fashion and luxury brands– $400 and up– do both.
What of Apple Watch? What’s the value proposition (compared to a watch)? It tells time dependably and accurately, can be used in multiple activities, and it bristles with a growing array of instant information in the form of notifications and alerts.
What about fashion? Watch bridges the utility of a value proposition and looks good in the process with different models and band combinations. Does everyone need Watch? Of course not. But that’s the wrong question. Apple has a way with taking needs and making them wants.
As an example, we can buy Windows PCs– notebooks and desktops– for a fraction of the price of a Mac. But a PC that is comparable to a Mac also costs comparable to a Mac. Here’s another way to look at wants vs. needs the Apple way.
We use our Macs for hours at a time. We use our iPhones for minutes at a time. We use Watch for seconds at a time. Each device fits and works well for what it does, and within Apple’s carefully curated ecosystem wants become needs. Does any PC user really, madly, deeply need a Mac? Of course not. Whatever runs on a Mac there’s likely a comparable counterpart on Windows.
So, why do we want a Mac? Because the user experience, the ownership of a Mac, is perceived as more valuable than a PC. Likewise, the user experience and ownership of an iPhone is perceived as more valuable to us than an Android smartphone (ditto for iPad). So it holds for Watch. Apple takes basic needs (computer, phone, watch) and turns them into desirable wants; products that are desired to be used. That explains why usage among Apple’s customers is much higher than usage among Windows PC users, and smartphone and tablet users in general.
Apple is better at turning wants into needs.