How does more than 50-percent market share, and ownership of the premium and most profitable end of the smartwatch spectrum constitute a flop or failure? Over the weekend I read ‘Why The Apple Watch Is Flopping‘ in Fast Company, an excruciatingly lame explanation of Apple’s latest flop, which happens to be leading the nascent category of smartwatch wearables. The real fail is not Apple Watch. The first hint of failure was the lack of a byline on the article. Even an out of work fiction writer with a nom de plume would not put a ficticious name to such a worthless exercise.
Insight? Or, Ulterior Motive?
There once was a time when technology writers would provide insight on a give topic of interest. The internet changed all that by devaluing content. Whose voice rises above the masses when everyone has an equal voice?
Instead of writing articles about new products, how they work, what benefits (or lack thereof) they bring to users, too many writers pontificate the negative aspects of a product without regard to balance or accurate perspective.
A case in point is the Fast Company article on Apple’s Watch flop. The article is not there to provide insight other than the insight you may gain from realizing you’ve been hoodwinked into reading yet another piece of drivel from an organization that has learned how to trump up page view and advertising revenue by forgoing solid analysis and replacing it with thoughtless drivel on today’s hot topic (almost anything that denigrates an Apple product is a hot topic, thanks to Apple’s 800-million or so customers).
First, let’s look at Watch. Watch is a newcomer to the early stages of wearable technology, specifically the so-called smartwatch category, and thanks to Apple’s manufacturing and marketing might, not to mention millions of customers willing to buy anything with an Apple logo on it, now the industry segments’ leader.
Second, Watch is an accessory product by way of the need to be tethered to an iPhone to function properly, so it’s not a standalone product in the vein of an iPad, iPod, Mac, or anything else Apple makes. It’s an accessory so do not expect it to sell in numbers that compare favorable to full-fledged products.
Third, unlike iPhone when it launched, Watch is absolutely packed with a bristling array of useful functions– but only in the vein of an accessory to the iPhone. Watch is also a few months old but is likely on target to sell more than iPhone did the first year, so calling it a flop would require an understanding of the overall objective of the products, and Apple’s first year sales expectations, neither of which Fast Company’s nameless writer knows.
The anonymous Fast Company writer touts a recent survey which says Watch sales have dropped 90-percent from the launch. Maybe, maybe not. But at best it’s a guesstimate from a little known survey maker who has figured out what other research firms have figured out– bash Apple with some spurious research, and become a household name overnight.
Only Apple knows how many Watch units have been sold, and Apple’s executives are smart enough to know that the lame members of the technorati elite and the nattering nabobs of negativity also known as market analysts will not understand the accessory segment in Apple’s product line, and would attempt to determine success or failure based upon a comparison of Watch sales units to other, more mainstream, standalone products. Hence, Apple won’t be divulging Watch sales units any time soon. Deal with it.
Fast Company’s floppy article highlights a growing trend in the technology industry– bashing anything Apple for fun and profit. Why? Advertising just ain’t what it used to be. It used to be that rags like Fast Company and the daily newspaper in every market could prosper by selling advertising. The internet changed all that. Today, digital rags like Fast Company, Business Insider, Engadget, Forbes, BGR and others have become little more than tech versions of grocery store tablets in the vein of National Inquirer or Weekly World News with sensational headlines and controversial topics, instead of publications which offer insightful analysis or commentary. The former is digital propaganda which gets more hits, more page views, more advertising views, and more reader involvement than the latter, which may be entertaining reading but is just as ficticious.
Digital rag technology writers fail because they fail their readers, and blindly follow the directives of their editors and publishers whose rallying cries are, ‘Must have more readers!‘ And, ‘Must create controversial topics!‘ Why? ‘Need more revenue!‘ Why? Because digital advertising does not generate the same massive profits once enjoyed by their print-based brethren. It’s a 21st century version of yellow journalism.
Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.
Does that sound familiar?
Why is Apple the brunt of such attempts to master yellow journalism? Just as newspapers in the late 1800s were able to increase circulation and advertising revenue by trumping up sensational news, it’s simple math.
Apple has 800-million customers, some of the highest customer satisfaction rates in the technology industry, and the company’s every move is monitored and analyzed in detail by a growing number of tech industry and market pundits who know that every article about Apple will generate an abnormally high number of visitors and page views, which translates into greater advertising revenue.
Unfortunately, just as the internet damaged forever traditional print newspaper and magazine industries, the race to drum up page view hits with sensational and biased headlines and articles damages online publications which lose credibility by constantly crying wolf without cause. As publication costs increase and advertising revenue suffers at the hand of feeble and lame content, publications add even more advertising, which forces readers to employ ad blockers to remove the constant barrage of visual irritation, or simply ignore the sensation mongering. It’s a vicious circle where the only winners will be, as they have always been, thoughtful and insightful publications, writers, and readers; always in the minority, always the voice of reason, but a voice increasingly difficult to find amid the swelling seas of sensationalism.