We were promised that the Apple watch would change everything and that it would be the first big selling wearable.
We are still yet to the see the watch’s release, but if public opinion is anything to go by, it is not going to reach the heights that many predicted.
With a price tag ranging from around $500 to over $10,000 they are not the cheapest and people seem to be unwilling to pay this kind of money for something that has no proven track record.
In fact on Twitter the main message from consumers is simply that close to pre-launch, they aren’t that interested in it as a product.
So if the Apple Watch doesn’t kick start an industry that many have predicted big things for, what will?
One of the most important aspects that has seen Apple become the richest company in the world has been that they have managed to create narratives around their products. From the computer in your pocket with the iPhone to the powerful creative imagery of the Macbook range.
Each of Apple’s products have created a story that people can buy into, they have been marketed as a lifestyle choice but at present, the Apple Watch has not done this.
In order for a wearable product to be truly successful, the public need to know why they should be using it. At the moment the narrative for most is simply, ‘do things without having to get your phone out of your pocket’. This alone is not going to be the key to changing society’s mindset on the technology.
Controlling wearable devices has always been a challenge.
From the way that people needed to actually talk to their Google Glass, through to the fiddly nature of many of the existing smart watches. Nobody has cracked the code and nobody knows if it is something that can actually be cracked. Sure, in spy films having something on your wrist has always looked cool, but if you are on a bus and need to use your wearable, you don’t want to have to talk to your wrist.
At present, we are unsure about how the Apple Watch will make a difference to this, with their ‘digital crown’ claimed to be the breakthrough, but with no consumer information backing this up.
One of the main reasons that the iPhone was such a success was simply because it was a phone.
This sounds strange, but essentially people could afford this technology through getting a phone on contract rather than needing to pay for it up-front. This meant that as more people had them, others felt the need to get them and subsequently more were sold.
With the Apple Watch, is this something that will be included in contract packages? And if it is, would this be something that people would want to pay more money for?
Unfortunately for us, wearable technology is still very much in the early adopter phase. This essentially means that it is seen as off the wall and nerdy. It is not something that has yet been embraced by a wider audience who could make it cool.
This means that in order to get to this point, there needs to be some kind of change where it is accepted and adopted by the cooler elements of society. We may see famous people wearing them in adverts, but ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼are they likely to adopt wearable technology outside of being paid to do so?
Forcing cool is not something that has ever had commercial success. It is, after all, a state of mind rather than anything else. Blackberry tried to do it when they appointed Alicia Keys as their creative director, which did not end well for the company.
To get these kinds of devices to become cool, they need to actually be cool. That is to say, useful, aesthetically correct and worthy of a place on people’s wrists. As it stands, the Apple Watch may get to this stage, but at the moment consumer opinion says otherwise.
There is no such thing as a catch all device.
Think about the iPhone, it may well be a computer and you can access apps and browse the internet, but people cannot work from their mobile device alone. It certainly manages to make the job easier and can add a mobile element to computers, but it does not try to replace them.
Equally when you look at the more niche wearable devices that have become popular, like Fitbit and Jawbone, they have made their millions by not trying to do everything, but have instead focussed on the health needs of an individual.
Will people want to have something on their wrist that tries to do everything? Something that attempts to put together everything their phone can do, but on a smaller screen, whilst also having all of the functionality of the more specific sports bands.