Apple Watch and Dissatisfaction

on November 30, 2015

One of the things that interests me most with regards to the Apple Watch owner research I’m involved with as a part of Wristly is the way we are able to observe, on a monthly basis, the behaviours of consumers in a brand new category. To my knowledge, nothing like this has been done before. When the PC first came out, there was not dedicated study on behaviour. Nor was there with the PDA, the smartphone, or the tablet, all important computing platforms. So to be able to study a user base this early in the lifecycle of a new computing platform is proving quite insightful. Our research is focused as much on understanding the smartwatch category as it is understanding behaviours of a particular product like the Apple Watch. While it is true Apple Watch users will behave somewhat differently than consumers of other smartwatches, there are insights I’m picking up that are generally applicable as well. This is particularly true in one of the latest rounds of research we’ve conducted.

We believe it is important to tell the whole story with regard to the Apple Watch and smartwatches. Which means, we need to research the bad as well as the good. While we did the research to validate amazingly high satisfaction levels with Apple Watch, we also wanted to understand the mindset of the small minority who have a more negative opinion of the Apple Watch. So we decided to seek out and learn from those who had less than positive experiences with the Apple Watch and have stopped using it entirely or significantly less than when they first purchased it. It is important to note, finding a large enough group with negative sentiment toward the watch proved much harder than finding a large group with positive sentiment. This group we researched represent an extremely small group and nowhere near represents the majority of Apple Watch owner sentiment.

The Key Findings

We found and asked 340 people who have tried and seemingly moved on from the Apple Watch, at least for now, to share their thoughts on what turned them off. The research was conducted over the first two weeks of November 2015.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 9.10.12 AM

I could give an entire presentation just unpacking this one chart as it is critical in so many ways. A few quick takeaways.

The first thing we notice is nearly half the respondents gave up on it less than two weeks in. For this group of people, value was not captured immediately. Which is something that came out of my initial analysis of the product. The Apple Watch, in its current manifestation and because the concept is so new, took time to truly understand its value. It certainly takes more than two weeks to realize how it fits into your life. But in the future, this will not be the case. This is simply due to the immaturity of the market and the product. Yet a larger portion, more than half of the respondents, did give it more than two weeks and still didn’t find enough value to keep using their Apple Watch. Why is the most interesting and perhaps the clearest critique of the entire smartwatch category.

Here are the top five reasons this group gave for giving up on the Apple Watch.

Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 7.36.13 AM

The most insightful part of this particular question was the follow on, fill in the blank area where 300 people who took the survey wrote a comment about the product. I read through them all and a number of things stood out.

The biggest theme in the critiques was about performance. Many thought the Apple Watch was too slow, particularly around data retrieval and third party apps. The other was about battery. Many commented on their desire to have the watch face be visible at all times and not have to charge daily. Another interesting thread in the comments was the high number of people who said they would have liked it more if it was more independent from the iPhone. This is a similar thread to comments from our larger Wristly panel of satisfied owners. Another common thread I saw from this group was the price. Many who commented suggested the price was too high and we know from this panel 65% of those who responded bought a Sport. This indicates that even $349 felt too expensive for the value for this group.

Lastly, following the consistent theme we discover with the Wristly research, there is a heavy negative bias from those who work in the tech industry. In this panel, like many others we have run, the most critical and less satisfied Apple Watch owners are the ones who work in tech, evaluate tech for a living, or are fairly technical. 45% of the respondents of this dissatisfaction panel work in tech and in a tech related function (like a developer).

The critiques we observed in this panel were similar to many concerns about the category as it was first being analyzed. But they are also very indicative of an immature market and a version one product. If we have a few key takeaways on what we may learn from this, it is the following. Smartwatches and the Apple Watch have more potential to go mainstream if they:

– Have better speed and performance in general and with third party applications
– Increase battery life, including an always on display
– Become even more independent from the smartphone
– Lower the price

Given the research and feedback we are getting from the much larger panel of satisfied Apple Watch owners, I remain convinced there is something here with this category. However, we have to remember it is young and the Apple Watch nor the smartwatch category is anywhere near mature. This product also may not be for every adult on the planet like the smartphone is. There is nothing wrong with that. I do feel this is a big market but my conviction is it won’t hit its stride until mid-late 2017.

We plan to share much deeper research, analysis, and vision for the smart watch category at the dedicated conference I am helping put on centered on the Apple Watch called Glance on Dec 10th in San Francisco. You can learn more here and Tech.pinions readers get a discount if they use the promo code CS10 at checkout.