The Curious Case of the AAPL Watch
For as much 'hype' as the AAPL Watch received pre-announcment, the noise has gone rather silent. As the company's perception continues to live-and-die with iPhone shipments, the AAPL Watch received very little attention on the last earnings' call. And rightfully so - I estimate that the AAPL Watch only contributed about 3% to the company's top-line revenue ($2.4 billion). But I estimate that the $2.4 billion represented shipments of over 5 million units. 5 million units is an extraordinary number for any company not named AAPL.
I have an AAPL Watch Edition - it's a great timepiece (I also have a Panerai - mechanical watch). But what's more interesting is what I've observed about who is wearing these things. When the AAPL Watch was unveiled in September-2014, the little that we saw of the software and capabilities made me believe it would be well-suited and popular for the upper-adolescent population (I call them the"Younger Millennials") - a generation that did not grow up wearing watches and "I thought" AAPL was now giving them a reason to do so. Due to the need for an iPhone to pair it with, I knew the AAPL Watch would not be a device for the younger-adolescent population, although it seems like kids are getting iPhones at younger-and-younger ages now. Even though AAPL touted the fashion aspect of the product, I didn't really think it would be widely adopted by professionals (35+ college-educated and sophisticated people). After all, this is a group that still does covets expensive mechanical watches and the AAPL Watch still seemed a bit too 'tech' to be worn on the wrist everyday.
Now that the product has been out for almost 10-months, I've observed some very interesting things:
- Demographic adoption: The demographic (Young Millennials) that I thought the AAPL Watch would be most popular with is virtually non-existent as buyers (and users). The demographic that I see wearing it the most is the exact demographic I thought it would be least popular with - professionals.
- Accretive Not Replacement: The vast majority of people that I've talked to that have AAPL Watches were not previously wearing a watch - most said that they used their phones to tell the time.
- Stacking the Wrist: While many have raved about the AAPL Watch as a health and fitness tool, the majority of people I talk to do not use it for that. I'm not sure what it is - either it's too complicated and they don't want to figure out how to make it part of their 'fitness routine', or they don't think it is effective in that capacity. Strangely enough, I've seen a number of people with an AAPL Watch on one wrist and a FitBit on the other.
- Time is Money: Here is the irony (or maybe not). When I talk to these people about why exactly they are wearing an AAPL Watch, the one consistent answer is..."it saves me time". It allows people to determine whether a tweet, text message, email or other consistent notification is worth their time. One person said, "I wear an AAPL Watch for one reason - I pull my phone out of my pocket 50 times per-day now, instead of 250..and for me, that's worth it."
- Travelers love them: Travelers such as business professionals that are on planes each week LOVE AAPL Watches - there are more useful features on the AAPL Watch that resonate with travelers (boarding passes, hotel keys, etc.) than any other population.
But perhaps the bigger question is why the AAPL Watch does not resonate with the Young Millennial population?
- It Doesn't do the Things They Crave: This Young Millennial population I speak of loves social media - they love texting, posting, tweeting, sharing pictures, etc. The AAPL Watch is not good for any of that. You can't take pictures, texting is somewhat awkward using voice commands...it's just not great for social media curation.
I have seen C-Suite Executives from large publicly-traded companies wearing AAPL Watches; I have seen many other business professionals (both males and females) doing the same. I have seen Young Millennials receive AAPL Watches as gifts, open them, and are now stashed away in some drawer never to be seen again. It's quite interesting...it's quite curious.