Yesterday, it was the big day for Apple. Not only every WWDC is by definition a big event but yesterday Apple was extending its territory to a new product category: watches. For a well established brand like Apple, extending your product segments is always a tricky question. Why should you do it, why do you need it and most important: why my customers should buy it. We could build a full list of questions and the answers would determine the future success of such new product. With the Apple watch, the Cupertino company stepped into a complex matter. Not sure what is going to be the output of it.
Apple WWDC, a worldwide super-show
While Steve Jobs created his own legend by his famous “keynotes” during Apple WWDCs, the Californian company established a multi-annual rendez-vous with its fans and collaborators. There are more than 9 million Apple developers in the world today. This is 50% more than last year. The youngest Apple developer, attending the conference is 13 years old. The developer’s tools kit was downloaded 14 million times already. While the whole computer industry declines by 5% every year in the past 5 years, Apple has a double digit growth. Last year, Apple sold 80 million macbooks.
In terms of iDevices, the Cupertino company sold more than 800 million in its lifetime. This means 500 million iPhones in circulation, 200 million iPads and 100 million iPod touches. Many people would say that today Apple is a mainstream company but let’s not forget that in the last year, over 130 million Apple customers were buying an Apple product for their first time. So they are still recruiting. And that makes the WWDC exciting since 1989 (25 years already!).
You never forget your first time
As explained above, Apple’s WWDC has become over the years one of the biggest events worldwide. Everytime, Apple’s CEO get to the stage, all eyes start shining and glowing in the dark room at the Cupertino center. While Steve Jobs was a living god for most of the people attending, Tim Cook is his prophet and try to keep Apple religion and believers still connected. So every conference has its highlights but the biggest highlight of all is when Apple extends its territory to a completely new product category. It smells like adventure for your desks and for the palm of your hands.
In May 1998, Apple revealed to the world the iMac. It was a bomb into the well established personal computer industry. It would wash away everything you would know about a personal desk computer. From its colors, design and all integrated functionalities, everything was new and Apple wanted to position themselves as the creative alternative.
In October 23rd 2001, the computer company killed the discman with the launch of the first iPod, Apple’s electronic music listener device. It brought a revolution in terms of how we would listen to music but also jow we would buy music. The word iPod became a generic word to designate any electronic device that would allow you to stream music to your ears.
On January 10th 2006, Apple offers to the world the Macbook Pro. Probably one of the best laptops you could get and cherish on top of the cake: it was stylish and beautiful. It switched the perception of Apple’s product to many IBM and HP oriented companies. Yet all these was about computers and electronic external devices you would use to stock and access your IT data.
That’s why January 2007 was a huge milestone in the company’s record. It was the date in which Apple became a telephone company with the launch of the first iPhone. And this little invention would deeply change the way we access the web, communicate with people and become potentials content producers everywhere at any time. It was also the biggest recruitment strategy to the brand since ever. And this week, Apple launched the iPhone 6, the 6th generation of telephones in less than 7 years. It was such a big event back in 2007, that nobody remember that it was also the year of the Apple TV first generation launch.
The last extension in date was until yesterday the iPad. Launched in january 2010, the Apple tablet was one of the most expected devices. It was considered as the biggest pre-launch buzz in the history of Apple. Everybody would call it the iSlate and crazy imaginative pictures would populate the web for at least 6 month prior the launch.
4 years after the launch of the iPad, Apple played big with the addition of a new product category and this time it was not 6 month of pre-launch buzz. It was over 2 years. There are probably more fake designs for the Apple watch in the world than probably watches that Apple will sell. The buzz was amazing and while all competitors were digging a hole in which they would burry themselves, Apple was waiting for the right moment or trying to find a clever idea. Clever? Definitely. Good for the customers? Hummm… Not that sure.
Apple Watch, not sure…
If you were dreaming of a smart-watch for the past 2 years, if you tried all Peebles, Samsung Gears and other Motorola 360 and still disappointed, the Apple Watch is for you.
It is indeed the best smart-watch of the market. From the quality of the materials, the sharp elegant design and the amazing interface, Apple is much more successful than any other. They composed a true watch collection with four different lines. Several references from simple, sporty and stylish to 18karat Gold cases and leather straps. Prices would start at $399 which makes a very affordable cool watch. The power of Apple is their ability to understand that real people will wear their devices. This means the user experience is even more important than ultra-performance. So the Apple Watch has probably the best user experience you could get from a wearable device that has no keyboard.
They also got the right people to do the right thing, so they basically sent all competition back to the white piece of paper.
But how great Apple Watch really is. Opinions are mixed-up. Mashable, one of the top references in the world in terms of high-tech savvy just killed the Apple Watch a few minutes after the revelation. In deed, Todd Wasserman, one of Mashable top editors, just explained why he would not buy one. I believe that the electronic life of people in the USA is much more intense that the one people in other countries might experience. Todd explains in his article that the over exposure to emails, notifications of all kinds, text messages, SMS, MMS or any kind of communication is getting to a certain extreme limit in the US. In the article you can read that middle and top executives spend 13.5 hours everyday on emails and any kind of messages someone try to send to them. This is not only a productivity killer but it also dicreases the quality of these people’s personal lives. So if you buy a watch, that will be always with you and that everytime someone is trying to contact you will provide an alert, it might not improve things.
Another interesting point in Wasserman article is the fact that you can find cheaper and efficient ways to do the same thing that an Apple product does. One of his first references was the iPhone. He realized that many other Android phones would allow him to do get the same kind of user experience doing the same things. The android phone was much cheaper and the batterie life 3 times more efficient. The author even explained that within Apple itself, they start having a major problem with so many devices and segmented areas. In deed, why should you buy a very expensive Macbook pro if pragmatically speaking you get the same usage with a Macbook Air. Of course that from a pure performance aspect, you would get a better experience with a Pro version, but frankly everybody prefers a lighter laptop for what we usually do in life. And you can extend this thinking to other products. While the iPod was a revolution in 2001, today it became just an iPhone functionality. And if you think about the Macbook Air, probably you should buy an Ipad. If you bought an iPad mini, now you might consider buying an iPhone 6 Plus. It does not really make sense.
What happens if you are travelling? Now you need a cable for your iPhone, another one for your iPad, one for your laptop and finally one new cable for your Apple watch. Really Apple? The more the devices are getting lighter and compact, the more cables you need. So probably you might want to summarize all these in one single iPad LTE.
Last but important point: is the Apple Watch a true watch? Definitely the Apple Watch has different details that makes it very unique from its competition. The winding crown, the bracelets and bracelets clasps, the precious metal cases and collection structure, makes the Apple Watch the closest electronic thing from a watch.
Of course the definition of a true watch is complex. It will probably do some trouble to the entry price watch segment like Swatch, Tissot or even all the ICE watches, Casio, Nike or Suunto. But when it comes to true luxury watch-making, especially the Swiss industry, we believe that there is nothing to worry. Probably it might even bring some people back to the wrist-watch market and eventually some of them will buy a more status and conventional watch (if we can call them like this).
So yes, there is a market for the Apple Watch, but it will not be a revolution as the Quartz technology was at the end of the 70’s. It will find the wrist of many people, probably not as much as Tim Cook thinks. Unfortunately for Apple, the Apple watch was made by them. Only a watchmaker can make watches. Do not ask one watchmaker to build a phone or a computer. In this specific case, then you could buy an Apple one.
Info sourced in wikipedia, Readwrite.com, Mashable, watchonista.com and Apple WWDC online conference. All content is copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.