Now if you dig around you will see that many feel this lack of enthusiasm was due to the lack luster specs combined with a large price tag. This would seem to be the case, but many Apple fans harken back to the days when the first iPhone hit the market. For those of you that remember this event, there was a standing ovation for a device that did not even have simple features like copy and paste under the hood. Of course this was at a time when Steve Jobs was still at the company and his marketing team was at the top of their game. There was almost nothing like the iPhone and Apple banked on that in order to push it as a revolutionary product. The belief that it was the “first” touch screen smartphone has become common despite the fact that there were many others on the market at the time.
In today’s market things are very different. Apple no longer has the luxury of claiming the same firsts they did with the iPhone. The competition between Apple and the rest of the world has blown up. Their competitors know that they have to get their ideas out quickly so that Apple does not try to bowl them over. This s why companies like Samsung, LG, Motorola, Sony and Pebble put some much effort into getting their products recognized. Some of these companies are already on their third and fourth generation products with very mature designs and hardware. Apple has very little chance of distorting reality in the way that they did with the iPhone. This means that the public is more likely to judge Apple on the strengths of the product instead of just taking their word.
Sadly, it seems that the Apple watch might not have many strengths to work on here. In looking at the watch there are several issues that might have an impact on its sales. The first item on the hit list is battery life. When Samsung launched the Gear it was hammered for its lack of solid battery life. Apple is finding their Apple watch in the same boat. Apple lists the battery life at 3-48 hours with the upper 48 hours only using the time keeping functions and the lower when you want to make calls through it. There are other scenarios that Apple has accounted for like 6.5 hours for listening to music and 7 hours if you are working out with the heart monitor on. None of these disguise the fact that the Apple watch just is not optimized for battery life. If you look at the Apple Watch’s leading competitor the Gear S you can get between 18-28 hours of life with multiple functions going (Music, Phone calls using the built-in 3G and exercise using the built-in GPS) this is due to the maturity of the platform and the hardware. Apple will need to do a lot of work to fix this.
Outside of Battery life users will find that there is not much room for anything on their brand new $400 watch. Although the Apple watch sports 8GB of storage you can only use 2GB of it for your music or photos. This is not a whole lot to play with when you think about how the Apple watch it being marketed. Apple is taking up 6GB of what they are giving you and there is no clear reason why. This is not uncommon in smart watches, but usually the ratio is a little more even. By comparison the Gear S has 4GB of usable space which you share with the OS, installed apps, music, and other media. So while you end up with about the same usable space between the two, but Apple seems to need more for their OS and other features than Samsung does.
Finally there appears to be some concern with developers and building apps for the new watch. According to some early information Apple has locked developers out of many features on the watch including the accelerometer and gyroscope. There are also some rumblings that some of the health features are not accessible with the current development kit. Beyond that there are complaints that devs cannot even properly test their apps as the simulator does not represent the real environment at all. If this is the case it could put the Apple watch behind the game when it comes to new apps. As anyone in the “smart” gadget industry knows, you are going to live or die by the app ecosystem you have for your product.
Apple is hoping to grab another win with the Apple watch and they are sure to sell some of these to their more faithful following, but they also are going to have to face the fact that they have competition. I am not talking about competition from Samsung here, but from makers of brand agnostic smart watches. Some people grew tired of waiting for Apple to catch up and have moved on to another brand. Many of these people will not see spending $350-400 more to replace what they already have especially with the limitations that this new product has. The days when Apple can launch a product and automatically claim market supremacy are long past. Consumers today are much more aware of what is really going on and also what they want from their products. Apple is sure to sell the Apple watch and will probably sell some of the $10k versions, but it is not likely that this will be the massive hit they want.