Do you remember Franklin? Way back in the early days of Apple’s journey as the PC bandleader, Franklin copied Apple’s ROM and designs, got sued, lost, and became a footnote to personal computing’s history.
Here we are in the 21st century and Apple’s list of competitors which are no longer around continues to grow. It’s not just PCs, not just iPod competitors or music stores, and not just smartphones and tablets. Everywhere you look, competitors have fled, a few remain, and Apple owns the profits of whatever industry it seeks to dominate. Watch seems to be another.
Apple’s Watch is considered an industry leader among both wearables and smartwatches (they are not the same), soaking up sales and profits more quickly than rivals. Beware those who compare Watch with Fitbit and others in the wearables category. They are not the same thing. Smartwatches, represented by Watch, are wearables. Not all wearables are smartwatches.
Charles Darwin’s Darwinism— the theory of evolution– can be summed up in the phrase ‘survival of the fittest‘ (penned by Herbert Spencer, not Darwin). Google ‘smartwatch death’ and you’ll be treated to headline after headline from the nattering nabobs of negativity which rule the technorati elite politburo with an iron fist.
The reality is this. Like creatures on planet earth, technology is all about survival of the fittest. Those members of the technology class that are not fit, will not survive. Remember, a smartwatch is an accessory, not a product category that resembles personal computers, smartphones, or even tablets, therefore, Watch won’t sell in numbers that compare favorable to iPhone, so Apple is smart not to divulge sales numbers. Critics and so-called market analysts compare Apple to apples all the time, and Watch wouldn’t be any different.
Members of the Guesstimators Club claim about 30-million smartwatches have shipped in the past few years compared to nearly 3-billion smartphones. That’s about 1-percent penetration. Again, we’re not talking Fitbits or cheap-assed exercise devices with a clock built-in. These are smartwatch numbers; Apple Watch, Samsung Gear, Motorola, Pebble, et al. Oh. Wait. Survival of the fittest. Pebble is gone and so is Motorola.
Apple’s Watch is a survivor. Others may follow, but no one else is touting any record of success in comparison. Just as the Mac, with barely double digit marketshare numbers against the rest of the personal computer industry, outweighs all others in the profit arena, iPhone owns the profits of the smartphone industry, and current guesstimates place Apple Watch in a similar position with more than half the smartwatch industry’s and an even larger percentage of profits.
Survival of the fittest? It’s more than that. For Apple, it’s the prosperity of the fittest. The Watch design flows easily from exercise to fashion to utility accessory. Everyone I know with a Watch has multiple bands to match Watch to different occasions. Personal computing has long since moved away from killer apps. What was the iPhone’s killer app? The phone? Email? Texting? Browsing? Games? The proper answer is, ‘all of the above.’ Killer apps are passé and so 1999.
Likewise, Watch does not have a killer app, but it does have a weakness. Watch is tethered– for now– to iPhone, and that makes it an accessory, not a standalone product that works like Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Just as it was with the original iPad, Watch started out expensive; fine for early adopters and the well heeled, but not an item for the masses. Yet, Apple’s Watch sales benefit from an aggressive price strategy; a new Watch goes for $269.
Fitbit has been considered the king of wearables, and some unfortunate technology and market critics compare exercise wearables with Watch. For a growing number of customers, Watch’s utility outweighs whatever Fitbit promotes, hence the recent purchase of Pebble’s assets, and the fact that Fitbit’s sales have stalled.
Product comparisons come and go but what seems steady in the technology industry is Apple’s ability to define a new product, become the dominant mindshare, revenue-share, and profit-share player, all to the detriment of competitors who scavenge for leftover crumbs. Survival of the fittest, indeed.