I don’t think the Apple Watch is going to be a “flop” by any stretch of the imagination, although I also think anyone who thinks Apple will sell 50 million units of the first-generation model this year is fooling themselves. Vox’s Danielle Kurtzleben has posted a very harsh take on the Apple Watch that makes some very strong points on the new device, even though I’m not nearly as pessimistic as she is about its long-term prospects.
“Viewed as a gadget, the device is just too expensive given its limited functionality,” Kurtzleben explains. “Yet it’s going to be an uphill battle to sell a square, bulky touchscreen device as a fashion statement. In trying to be both a gadget and a luxury item, it’s at high risk of falling in the no-man’s land between the two.”
This is my feeling about not just the Apple Watch but all smartwatches right now. Even the best looking smartwatches like the Moto 360 are just too bulky and draw attention to your wrist in a way that standard high-end wristwatches don’t. Wearable computers need to be small and thin enough so that people don’t even notice you’re wearing them, and none of the current generation of smartwatches is up to snuff in this regard.
Where I disagree with Kurtzleben is on functionality. Apple is smart enough to know that its app developers are its true MVPs. If you can get them on board to figure out more creative uses for the device than the ones Apple has thought up, then the functionality aspect will take care of itself, just as it did with the iPad.
Of course, to get developers enthusiastic about making apps for the device, people do have to buy it and want it on their wrists in the first place. This is why I’m not sure we’ll see a heavy uptake of the Apple Watch this year. Instead, that will come a year or two from now when Apple has refined the device’s look, made it thinner and improved its battery life, which are all things the company has shown it’s more than capable of doing.