My First Week With the Apple Watch

Ben Bajarin / April 8th, 2015

It is rare in this industry to get to experience the beginning of something new,  something for which you have no frame of reference. While not a stand-alone computer (yet), I’m convinced the Apple Watch represents something completely new. It is a unique way to interact in a digital world.

I say this having used nearly every smartwatch to hit the market over the last few years. None of them felt like a mass market product but more for a tech enthusiast or early adopter. The Apple Watch is easily the first smartwatch I’ve used that was designed for the average consumer.

Because of how powerful the Apple Watch is, I believe it will appeal differently to different people and for different reasons. What I’ll share here are the experiences that stood out most to me and the observations I’ve made.

Notifications Done Right

I’ve been using smartwatches since the first Pebble. I had always been attracted to the idea of notifications delivered to my wrist but most smartwatches to date just duplicated the notifications on my phone. It’s been said by many smart people that a notification that just tells me to take out my smartphone is useless. It is in this area the Apple Watch sets itself apart from the smartwatch pack. Apple’s implementation delivers on the promise of notifications done right.

Unlike many other smartwatches, the Apple Watch lets you take action in a simple and efficient way directly on your wrist. For example, when a text message comes in, you can respond with pre-set answers, an emoji, by voice dictation via Siri or a voice recording. Interestingly, the pre-set text answers are contextual and change based on what the Watch understands of the content of the conversation. Meaning, it is trying to predict the types of answers you will need and bring those to the top for quick, easy replies. I found this to be incredibly useful and efficient.

The Apple Watch became my primary notification panel/dashboard. It is not only the most natural place to be notified and to decide what action needs to be done but, because the entire user experience was built for quick interactions, notifications may have found where they were destined to exist.

Apple allows for a tight filtering of the notifications you want to occur. By limiting what I want to be notified of, I ensured only the most important things — from email, to texts, to calls, and even relevant app notifications — are exactly what I want to be notified about. It ensures each notification is meaningful.

Meaningful Taps

Since the Apple Watch is worn, it has the ability to get our attention and deliver value in ways different from our smartphones. Smartphones are usually out of sight but not out of mind. A buzz or ding alerts us something requires our attention. The challenge is we don’t know exactly what requires our attention. Is it important or not? We have to pull our phones out of our pockets or bags, or find where we left it around the house to find out. As the Apple Watch helped me figure out, not all notifications are created equal. Yet our smartphones treat them as such.

Since we engage with the Apple Watch for only a matter of seconds, we need to know the information delivered is extremely valuable. Therefore, the notifications I allow to come to my wrist are ones I have ranked as the highest priority. When you know which notifications you want and which ones you don’t, then each notification is meaningful. Since the Watch is the thing I have on me and is visible at all times, it is a natural place for the most important information to be accessible. With the Apple Watch app, you can filter the notifications you want to allow to get your attention. This is the most compelling aspect of the Watch experience. I can leave my iPhone out of sight and, even if I hear it buzz or ding, if I don’t get notified on the Watch, I know it isn’t something important and doesn’t require my immediate attention.

Apple Watch also notifies you via different sounds and through vibration using the Taptic Engine. Each type of notification has a different feel. Once you learn these taptic patterns, it helps you know the type of notification before you even look at it. A good example of this was the Maps experience. When walking down the street to a meeting in San Francisco, I used the Watch to guide me there. The Apple Watch has a different taptic pattern for going left and for going right. This way, I didn’t need to lift my wrist to look at the display to know which way to go. The implications of these different types of notifications based on feel are unexplored territory.

Primarily around the notification and glance-able data experience, I saw a behavioral shift in how I used my iPhone. In many ways the Apple Watch untethered me from my iPhone the way the iPhone untethered me from my PC. I was free to leave my phone somewhere in the house, at my desk, or in my pocket, and focus more on the moments of real life. Sometimes it was a meeting, at home, out in my yard, at the kid’s tennis match, etc. There was peace of mind knowing I can leave my phone out of sight or mind but still have access to the relevant information or notifications and even be able to interact and respond to them. The most important interactions and information are no longer only accessible on my large screen smartphone. This experience, of moving key functionality from my iPhone to my wrist, proved to add a significant amount of value to my overall day.

Software

After just a few minutes with the Apple Watch you realize how powerful it is. It feels overwhelming to start, because you are trying to wrap your brain around all that this brand new type of computer can do. But quickly you realize that, while powerful, it is also very simple. Capable, yet approachable, in its user interface.

The reason I believe many who have had demos of the Apple Watch at both events initially felt somewhat uncomfortable with the user interface is because most of us are used to the fairly complex software interactions we use on our PCs, smartphones, and tablets. These computers have large displays where software and user interfaces are built with minutes or hours rather than seconds of interactions in mind. Once you grasp how well designed the Apple Watch user interface is for interactions measured in seconds rather than minutes, the more you realize how well thought out it is.

The Watch face is your main information dashboard. From this state, you can swipe down to get all notifications you have not yet seen. Swiping up reveals “Glances”, which are snippets of relevant information like stocks, weather, battery life, exercise, etc. Swiping left or right navigates easily through the glances. Swipe down at any time to go back to the Watch face. The digital crown is your Home button and takes you to the app screen. What is interesting in this interface model is how the apps are a layer below rather than front and center as on the iPhone and iPad.

Customization

One of the areas where the Apple Watch excels where so many other wearables, including luxury smartwatches, fail is in customization. With deeply customizable watch face options, you can quickly and easily change the watch face based on your mood, style, clothing, or just because you feel like something different. You can also customize all the “complications”, what the watch industry calls the additional information on a watch face not related to time. In my use of the Apple Watch, I always kept my calendar and weather information on each watch face. Then I customized several other watch faces based on different needs. For example, the Mickey Mouse watch face became my weekend watch face. Often times, I changed the colors of certain watch faces to match my clothing for the day, particularly when I had to dress up for client meetings or presentations.

Another customization element that was truly compelling were the watch bands. Most expensive watches require a professional to change the band so most people never change them and are stuck with just one. Apple designed the Apple Watch for quick and easy swapping of the band. My primary watch band is the Milanese Loop, but I don’t want to go to the gym or play tennis with it on the Watch. Yet, while I exercise, I still want the Apple Watch to track my activity. Because it is so easy to switch out bands, within a matter of seconds I switched from the Milanese Loop to the Apple Watch Sport band. I fully intend to buy a few more of the bands as well, so I have more options to change the band based on my mood or style.

With a product as personal as something we wear on our body, it is a huge differentiator for the Apple Watch that it is customizable for the personal preferences of each person.

A New Interaction Model

Ultimately what I am convinced of is the Apple Watch represents a completely new computer interaction model. A PC is for when we have a few hours. Our smartphones is for when we have a few minutes. Our smartwatch is for when we have a few seconds. Each device, and the software and experience built for it, should help us maximize those hours, minutes, and seconds.

We never expected the smartphone to disrupt the amount of time we spend on PCs yet that is exactly what happened. It is not uncommon for people to be sitting in front of their PC and simultaneously use their smartphone because it is more convenient to do certain things on a smartphone thanks to the apps and the software built for minutes not hours of use. Checking the weather, stocks, Facebook, etc., are often quicker and more easily done on a smartphone than on a PC. Similarly, I found myself doing things on the Apple Watch I used to do on my phone. Most often these were things useful at a glance. Things like reminders I set, task lists or goals I have organized, my next appointment, having Siri check my calendar, text my wife I’m on my way home, etc. All quick things I used my phone for (and still can) but are actually better, more useful, and super convenient when done right from my Apple Watch.

What makes this shift possible is how the software and UI are built for these micro-interactions. The software is what truly enables this new and added functionality and it is specifically because the experience was built around interactions measured in seconds. Which means quick, efficient, and relevant usage of the Apple Watch in the moments where you only have seconds and not minutes or hours to do something.

It isn’t just one thing about the Watch that makes it compelling. If it was only good at one or two things, it would suffice for a portion of the market but not satisfy the market as a whole. What I have found is it is the entirety of the Apple Watch experience that makes it compelling. It is an additive experience to the iPhone and one I found particularly valuable.

After a week, I’m convinced Apple is onto something with this product. It may not be a necessity for most people but it is absolutely complementary to our digital lives. And the best part is the whole thing is going to keep getting better. More apps will come, developers will evolve and create new and compelling software to take advantage of those interactions that are measured in seconds and not minutes. Apple will update the operating system to include more features and functionality. That is the beauty of this being both a hardware and software play. The experience is not static but dynamic and we can look forward to watching and using the Apple Watch as it continues to evolve in meaningful ways.

Extra Observations

All the Little Things
With Apple, it is the little things you do that you tend to appreciate. The things where you say, “That’s smart!” Here were a few of my favorite examples:

  1. Cover the watch face to silence a call
  2. Quick glance at notifications, but then holding your wrist up a second longer will reveal the contents of the notification if you want to read it
  3. Security settings allowing you to not reveal text notification in case you are in the presence of people you don’t want seeing or reading the content of a text or email
  4. Helpful notifications throughout the day coaching you health-wise to meet your goals
  5. Apple Watch learns about your movement over time and adjusts your goals and coaches you accordingly.
  6. The ability to use the watch to ping your iPhone so you can find it if you have misplaced it. A quick “find my iPhone” experience if you will

Force Touch
One of the most revolutionary things about the Apple Watch is Force Touch. If there is one single thing the Apple Watch possesses that I believe is a major step forward in Apple’s product ecosystem it is Force Touch.

Once Force Touch comes to other iOS devices like the iPhone and, perhaps more interestingly, the iPad, and developers start imaging new ways to use this new gesture and UI element, I believe we will take another huge step forward for touch computing.

Digital Crown

I found the digital crown to be dramatically more useful than I initially thought. I am so used to touch as an interface I thought there was no way I wanted to use the digital crown to navigate. But with the Apple Watch screen being smaller, you find your fingers get in the way of the screen as you are trying to read it. This is where the digital crown comes in handy. I found myself using the digital crown significantly more than touching the display.

Battery
From my experience with battery life, Apple appears to have undersold it. The Apple Watch easily lasted a day, even a long day of heavy use. My Apple Watch battery never got below 20% and only once even got close to that. The day it did was a long day when I took it off the charger at 5:45am and used it frequently, including tracking my activity during a two hour tennis match, and I didn’t plug it back in until 10:30pm.

With my average usage, I tried to see how long I could go and several times over the week got nearly two days of battery life. 
This will obviously vary by person, but the fact Apple Watch users will not have to worry about battery life over the course of the day no matter how heavy it is used is important for the experience.

Digital Touch
Lastly, this is the area I feel has very interesting potential. I was able to test this out with a few other people, and it truly is fascinating to have a new way to communicate via digital touch. However, no one in my immediate family has a Watch yet. Where I feel the ultimate potential for digital touch resides is when those you have more intimate relationships with send you messages where there is sentiment behind it. My wife and I could agree that three taps means I love you or I’m thinking of you. When I’m traveling on business this has huge potential for me personally. Or my kids could draw a picture of a cat or a flower. These little interactions, while brief, have the potential to be more personal. Love taps, or even love drawings, have the potential to bring a deeper level of intimacy to our digital communications.

For Tech.pinions subscribers I wrote a deeper analysis on the Apple Watch and what it means to the Apple ecosystem, the competition, and the category. If you are not a Tech.pinions subscriber you can learn more about our analysis service here.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
  • capnbob67

    Thanks for this review. It really reinforces what at interesting device this will be… and how hard it is to describe easily. As you say… the sum of all the small things and their execution are what really seems to set it apart. Can’t wait to get mine.
    Looking forward to 3rd party bands too!

    • Shaun79

      It’s a really great review. I can’t wait to get mine either!

  • FalKirk

    Great review, Ben.

    My major concern with the Apple Watch was whether Apple would focus the user interface on those things which are best done on a wrist worn device. Based on your review, and the other reviews I’ve seen, Apple has nailed it. Two examples provided in your article:

    “Cover the watch face to silence a call”

    How intuitive is that? It’s pre-cognitive — a natural way of responding to a situation before we’ve spent the time or energy to think about it.

    “Quick glance at notifications, but then holding your wrist up a second longer will reveal the contents of the notification if you want to read it”

    Again, exactly the way I would want my wrist computer to work.

    Computing is at its best when it accelerates our abilities — the proverbial bicycle for the mind. Apple is at its best when it allows us to stop thinking about the way our computers work and, instead, makes our computers work the way we think.

  • observer

    “The Apple Watch is easily the first smartwatch I’ve used that was designed for the average consumer.”

    This is totally Apple, and it predicts that the device will be a big seller.

    • Joseph Kool

      yeah ok

  • Jared Porter

    Great review and useful information. Can’t wait to order mine at 12:01 am Friday.

    One use case I haven’t heard mentioned is using Beats’ wireless earbuds and Apple Watch together at the gym or while bicycling . I believe AppleWatch will be able to store a certain amount of music (and hopefully Tech.pinion Podcasts) in its own internal memory, and provide audio/music to my earbuds without the necessity of carrying my iPhone? This provides the ultimate in hands-free movement and mobility married to entertainment or information while working out.

    • Janos Sitar

      There’s a bunch that haven’t been covered. I still can’t believe Apple didn’t demo the camera viewfinder/remote shutter functionality

    • appl3-1010

      That works. It’s a feature thats also been discussed in other reviews

  • Space Gorilla

    “It is an additive experience to the iPhone and one I found particularly valuable.”

    For me this is the key observation. The watch offers additive value, and I think most of the market will not see this as valuable enough. This won’t concern Apple since they dominate the Best Customer Segment (or perhaps call it the premium segment). These customers do want this kind of additive value.

    The crowd who says “My phone already does everything the watch does” obviously sees no (or little) value in this additive experience. I think we’re going to see Apple Watch succeed while Android Wear devices struggle for quite a while (until prices come way down), just based on the mismatch of market segments.

    • klahanas

      It’s a rare time we completely agree. This is one of them. That’s not to say that I can’t dismiss (silence) a call directly from my Moto360, but Apple will get the press and the credit. The “additive value” is what’s spot on. In my case, is the “additive value” enough for me to buy an iPhone and it’s accompanying commitment to that ecosystem and that lock in? In my case no.

      Apple fans will buy and enjoy this device in droves.

      • Space Gorilla

        You’re one of a small segment on the Android side interested in wearables. For most, the additive value will not be nearly enough, at least until the price comes way, way down.

        “Apple fans” is the wrong phrase, and it impedes your ability to understand what is happening, it inserts bias. Just call them Apple customers, since that is what they are. Apple has fans, certainly, but if only the fans buy the watch, it will be a failure. In reality the number of fans is very, very small. It is the number of satisfied customers that is quite large (most of Apple’s customer base in fact).

        • klahanas

          I appreciate your objection to my use of “Apple Fans”. The term was not intended to be derogatory, but it was intended to be descriptive.

          Why would someone, other than a fan, root and salivate over a brand specific device that is married exclusively to another brand specific device for no good reason outside of the manufacturer of both those devices?

          Yes, it hasn’t even launched and there are already “watch wars”. I won’t get too much into some of the vast derogatory talk against anything outside the Apple ecosystem (suddenly Tag, and Rolex have become a fan’s enemy, for instance), and everyone else sucks. They don’t speak for everyone, but they are the loudest.

          A more reasonable person waits for the more critical approach. A more even handed evaluation.

          • Space Gorilla

            “The term was not intended to be derogatory, but it was intended to be descriptive.”

            Agreed. But it is important to recognize that any discussion of these fans isn’t useful. Fans are a tiny group that have no significant impact on normal customers. Normal customers aren’t even aware of the interaction among fans that you describe. Fans, of course, are convinced of their importance and impact, but that is only delusion.

            Reasonable people (normal customers) buy a device and use a device, and they are either satisfied with the experience or they are not. They do not read tech sites, they are not aware of fan wars, but they are aware and making conscious buying decisions for good reasons.

          • Slurpy2k11

            Because pretty much every single review has stated that this product, although not perfect, will be the best smart watch available. A ton of people who own iPhones are not “Apple fans”, and they number in the many hundred of millions. If anyone in this group is interested in a smart watch, the Apple Watch should probably be at the top of their list. Not because they are “fans”, but because it seems like objectively the best product available.

          • klahanas

            Regardless of preference, the only smartwatch option for iPhone users is the Apple watch. Conversely, Android users desiring one must switch platforms. I call that bs.

          • hplan

            Um, Apple watches work with iPhones, Android Wear watches with Android phones. I call that unsurprising, or maybe even unavoidable.

          • klahanas

            It’s a peripheral. Should “PC Printers” not work with Macs and vice verse? There was a time that was true and that was wrong.

          • Space Gorilla

            There’s your mistake, it’s not simply a peripheral. The Apple Watch is an extension of the iPhone, highly integrated. The same will be true on the flip side when Android Wear becomes more mature.

          • klahanas

            It’s not a mistake so much as it’s a goal. Fr the user, ideally, the device will integrate to it’s full potential on either side. If there are technical limitations, it’s up to the deficient side to correct them. Is this against certain companies competence and interests? Sure. I don’t care.

          • Space Gorilla

            No, it’s a mistake. The device is not a peripheral. You said it was. It is not. Case closed. I understand you wish it was a peripheral, that’s what you would like. But that is not what Apple has created and it is not what Apple customers want.

          • klahanas

            I will grant you it’s a demand, not a wish.

          • Space Gorilla

            Either way it isn’t reality. You’re looking at a car and demanding that it be a truck. In this scenario you’re the salivating fan instead of the reasonable person.

          • klahanas

            You could say the same thing for the critique of anything.

          • Space Gorilla

            No, you really can’t. It’s not a critique when you’re demanding that Thing X be Thing Y instead of what Thing X actually is. I’m not sure what that is exactly, it’s certainly a denial of reality, and it is most certainly not a reasonable criticism.

            You at a car dealership: “Hey, I really like this BMW sedan, but I demand that I be able to haul a flatdeck trailer with 8,000 pounds of wood loaded on it.”

            Car Salesman: “Uh, this BMW can’t do that, it isn’t built for that, it would wreck the engine, the suspension, the tires, the frame. Never mind that there’s no way to attach a flatdeck to a sedan, it isn’t possible. You need a 3 ton truck for that job.”

            You: “I don’t care about the BMW’s technical limitations, I demand it haul a flatdeck!”

            Car Salesman: “Security to the showroom floor please…”

          • klahanas

            Please leave the RDF with Jobs in the afterlife. I want my BMW to do what all similar competing models have always been able to do, and more. I want backspace and delete keys, not a car that makes only right turns, even if three rights make a left.

          • Space Gorilla

            Your comment here has nothing to do with the issue at hand. The Apple Watch is a highly integrated extension of the iPhone, using the iPhone as an engine/hub to deliver an additive experience. It cannot also be an open peripheral, that is impossible. What you’re demanding is not reasonable, it is fanatical.

          • jfutral

            It’s worse than demanding a car be a truck, he’s demanding a motorcycle be an RV or a Scott Foil bicycle should be an SUV.

            Joe

          • Space Gorilla

            You should do some Googling, there are quite a few smartwatches and other wearables that work with iOS devices. The Apple Watch will of course be the most integrated, but it is not the only option.

          • klahanas

            Other than the Pebble?

          • Space Gorilla

            Yes. Even more than I had thought.

          • ignar

            I believe I heard Google announced they were going to support iOS with upcoming Android Wear version, or was it just a rumor?

          • klahanas

            I’ve heard the same thing. I would say they owe it to their hardware partners and to their customers. There’s no guarantee of Apple’s approval.

          • Space Gorilla

            Maybe you should wait and see what actually happens before you piss and moan about it.

          • klahanas

            I will piss and moan about the requirement.

          • Space Gorilla

            Could be there are technical problems that make it impractical, or perhaps Google wants to violate certain privacy rules, gather data in ways Apple does not allow. There are a lot of good reasons apps are not allowed. Or maybe Google is just working on apps for the Apple Watch and thinks that is a better approach. Who knows?

            But there are so many third party wearables available for iOS, I don’t see why Apple would not allow this, as long as Google isn’t doing something stupid that will degrade my experience.

          • klahanas

            “I do not see why Apple would not allow this”
            I will not have faith in any company’s exclusive judgment. Recommendation, yes, permission, no. This would include Google, MS, anyone.
            Anyway, the Pebble is the only cross platform smartwatch I know about. If there are more obscure others, they are just that, obscure.

          • Space Gorilla

            You don’t need to have faith, just trust the profit motivation. Learn how a company makes money, where their financial motivation is, that’s a good guide. That’s one of the reasons I prefer Apple, their profit motivation is strongly aligned with the user experience I want. Trust isn’t necessary, but of course after decades of serving me well Apple has gained some amount of trust from me. I’m less inclined to trust companies that don’t make money directly from the profit they earn from me.

            As for cross platform wearables, there are plenty. At this point all wearables are obscure, even the Pebble.

        • art hackett

          As “fans” is short for fanatics, you are most certainly correct. As much as the opposition tries to label Apple customers as such, reality (and rigorous financial analysis) demonstrates otherwise.

  • Augure

    Are there any non-corrupted Tech-media remaining, that do actual journalism, reporting and reviews instead of parroting disguised advertisement, like the army of hidden community managers on forums like Macrumors and blog comments who twist rationalization up to a crazy stupid point?

    “Hey look it’s an ugly, overpriced, un-innovative, limited and restricted watch that can’t do much! This is the best smart watch out there”

    “Oh the new Macbook is as underpowered as a mobile, has a non-existent keyboard, can’t be charged and plugged into common devices, but overpriced? I’ll take two, one in gold and one in silver!”

    “The iPhone 6 is a 1000$ phone with only 1GB Ram and start with 16Go option, at the same low resolution camera? Great, it’s best for us, because we don’t need better, decently spec’d, innovative product, IT IS GOOD FOR YOU”

    etc…I’ll let you come up with your examples…

    • benbajarin

      There is a difference between analysis and journalism.

      • klahanas

        Well put. I feel compelled to add that consumers that read tech sites are the “better customer”, for themselves! Understanding tech and knowing alternatives is the best defense against marketing.

        • Space Gorilla

          I could make a good argument that consumers who read tech sites are the worst customers. Ask any professional designer that works with clients who “read about design”. They are the worst clients, by far. They focus on the wrong things. They tend not to focus on value at all, but rather on price. I fire clients like this.

          • klahanas

            One can always just be wrong, and you’re right to fire customers that are wrong and only interested in price. I do too. But when I have a customer that’s informed, there’s always a synergy. Otherwise, they eat the dog food I make for them…

          • Space Gorilla

            Part of my model is to educate my clients, to help them become informed, and at the same time to teach them why it adds value to hire me and let me do the job I was hired for. I help them become better customers, show them how the ‘dog food’ is made and why it is good for them.

            I tell clients “If you want to hire me, then hire me. If you want to do this yourself then you should do that.” My process involves the client quite a lot, but the best customers understand that they do not actually know best.

          • To be clear, you are admitting to feeding your customers dog food unless they are familiar enough with what is good for them to call you out on it?

            That doesn’t ring very ethical to me, but that’s just an observation.

          • klahanas

            It’s a trade slang.

          • Thanks for the knowledge on the trade term. To be clear on the meaning, is it in reference to all of the deliverables for your clients, or is it a term used for less than stellar work? Real question btw.

          • klahanas

            Think of it as a more banal version of using your own widgets. I do think that it has an intentionally humbling connotation for all involved in making and selling.
            It would apply to all work, not just subpar.

      • Slurpy2k11

        Ben, I can’t believe you gave that batantly filthy troll a thought out response, as if he deserves it. The Macbook has a “non-existent” keyboard? Wow, first I’ve heard of that. And by definition, anyone who has anything positive to say about an Apple product is “corrupted”. Wow.

        • benbajarin

          I genuinely didn’t know he was trolling. I guess I don’t spend enough time in the comment forums 🙂

    • So enjoying Apple’s focus on building consistently satisfying products in the perspective of their customers whom rated Apple as the #1 customer oriented company, makes them corrupt?

      Because honestly, someone harboring as much hate for the company as you are is the only corruption I see here.

  • Kenny

    That’s sounds like a good review from an Apple User perspective i might say,

    • benbajarin

      Thanks Kenny. I recommend getting a demo if you get a chance. But the point is it designed for Apple’s customers, those vested in their ecosystem. But I will be curious to see how Android wear or others advance by focusing more on interaction models measured in seconds not minutes. I felt Android wear needed to improve on this quite a bit.

      • Kenny

        i will definitely buy one primarily for the strap which i think is gorgeous.

        • benbajarin

          Cool. Looking forward to your thoughts when you do.

  • George Y

    Great review! Just curious, was the watch you reviewed the 42mm or the 38mm?

    • benbajarin

      42mm

  • Hey Ben –

    With respect to notifications, how long did it take you to tweak the level of notifications to where you felt comfortable you were only receiving the ones you felt were most important? Of the reviews I’m reading, this seems to be a point of contention; some want a master on/off switch, some want a more granular level of control but I hear there aren’t a whole lot of out-of-the-box settings that “group” notifications together in any kind of way.

    • benbajarin

      not long at all. And I still hope another layer of filtering becomes possible. Like deeper twitter and Facebook filtering.

  • hannahjs

    PC = hours; smartphone = minutes; wearable = seconds. It’s about time in more ways than one, isn’t it? … And in a way, it’s about space, too! PC = confined; smartphone = mobile; wearable = carefree.

    Not to overgeneralise or anything 🙂

  • Tom

    You don’t really come across like someone whose ever used one of the many Android wearables before, which makes your piece meaningless and hyperbolic.

    • benbajarin

      I have used every one at length. Including Samsung’s non Android ones. None of them are mass market products.

      • Tom

        Maybe, just maybe you should have written your review with consideration of the competitor set?
        This is like reviewing a BMW and saying how much more amazing it is than walking.

        • Space Gorilla

          That’s quite a strong condemnation of Android Wear devices as a whole. Do you really think they’re that bad?

          • Tom

            I’m not sure you understood my point.

          • Space Gorilla

            I understood it. I was being a tad facetious, I’ll admit.

          • Tom

            It’s great to be sardonic on the internet. It always adds such value.

          • Space Gorilla

            That’s a good assessment of your original comment, I agree.

          • Guest

            x

        • benbajarin

          This was not a competition comparison piece.

          • Tom

            If you wanted to do a big picture piece, you could/should have written it about the category. The interesting remarks you make about the shortening unit of time become valid for all interactions in this potential new world.

            Or you could have compared the Apple Watch with Android example and pointed out differences and explained why this could make the category greater.
            As it is, it reads like a hapless Apple fan boy playing around with a new toy. Which I am sure is not a true reflection.

          • benbajarin

            You don’t read much of what I write do you?

            Also this term “Apple fan boy” is void of all intellectual honesty. I recommend never using it again on this forum if you want your comments to remain credible.

          • Tom

            I said it reads like a Apple Fan Boy, not that you are one and I made it clear this probably wasn’t a true reflection of you.

          • tom = TROLL

        • In the accompanying article for subscribers, Ben starts out by saying,

          However, from what I know already and see coming in the pipeline, I still do not believe there is a smartwatch category.

          https://techpinions.com/a-deeper-analysis-of-the-apple-watch/39561

          Although that is debatable, and in particular it is possible that the Apple Watch will draw attention to wearables as a whole and ignite the category, it is a fact that the sales of wearables has been very small as of yet.

          At least from a marketing and sales forecasting perspective for the Apple Watch, I don’t think competitor comparisons are important at this point. Most customers are hardly aware of the competition.

          I think where a comparison with Android Wear is important, is when we try to predict how Google, Samsung and others will try to ride the wearable wave if and after Apple Watch succeeds. For example, is Android Wear similar enough so that we can expect owners of Android smartphones to go to buy Android watches, in the same way as iPhone owners are lured to Apple Watch?

    • aardman

      No one is beyond reproach or criticism but on this one, Ben always does his homework. I can’t recall him ever tossing a throwaway line, i.e. an opinion cast into the discussion without any careful analysis and research to back it up.

  • Mauryan

    Would this be useful for blind people in terms of walking through the streets to their destinations? Taptic messages can further be developed so that visually or hearing impaired people can use the watch as their extra sense. I have read that the battery does not last long. This is the first iteration. Therefore there will be more improvements for sure. They need to bring the price down so that it reaches more masses.

    Now I wait for Samsung to jump into the “innovation” frenzy, starting with nearly identical watches (until Apple sues them), various sizes, shapes and colors and mass produced to flood the market at rock bottom prices, mock ads at Apple – time for the cycle to begin again.

    And then the sleeping giant shall awaken with an effort to unify Windows across all platforms all over again, including the watch.

    Yet another race to the bottom has started. Let us see who remains at the end.

    • Space Gorilla

      “I have read that the battery does not last long”

      The reviews I’ve read so far say the battery easily lasts a day, often with 30 percent or more charge left.

    • FalKirk

      “Would this be useful for blind people in terms of walking through the streets to their destinations?”

      I had never thought of that but, based upon the reviews I’ve read, I would say “yes.” Apparently the taptic engine can tell you whether you should turn left or right. The people who have tried it say that it works great but my brain will not be able to grok how this works until I’ve tried it myself. I’ll trust that the reviewers have gotten it right but also look forward to verifying the effectiveness of the subtlety of taptic messaging for myself.

    • art hackett

      I can hardly wait for the start button on a wearable. Or ctrl alt del.

  • obarthelemy

    I’m just not sure
    1- what that specific smartwatch does that others do not (most of the listed stuff, ie change bands, customizable watch faces, pinging your phone, running apps or mini apps, even games, voice assistant…) has been available on Android smartwatches for a while.
    2- if smartwatches in general have reached the “useful” point for people who do not specifically want to have the latest tech for the sake of it. I can get the sports tracking thing, but besides that… they seem mostly a notifications addict tool. the list of “best of” smartwatch apps, be it on Android or iOS, doesn’t seem very.. meaningful.

    The minutes vs seconds paradigm is interesting… I’d just rather switch to my phone for minutes’ worth of seconds at a time once or twice an hour, rather than break flow every few minutes to spend a few seconds on a watch.

    • Space Gorilla

      You make a good case for why Android Wear is going to struggle for quite a while. Android isn’t dominant in the market segment that places value on the additive experience a good wearable delivers, the small conveniences. As you say “I’d just rather switch to my phone”. I believe you, and that’s not good for Android Wear.

    • I also have the same questions as you do. At least on the surface (and everybody who hasn’t used both cannot dig deeper yet), both Android Wear and the Apple Watch have similar features.

      If the Apple Watch succeeds and if a lot of people share Ben’s impression, I will be struggling to understand what the difference is.

      Is it fashion? Is it marketing? Is it that there is something very important about the small things like the digital crown, force touch and the tactic engine? Or could it be that Apple’s features are implemented much better than Android Wear?

      The wearables market has been quite active for about two years now. However, no company has yet made it to the mass consumers. Many have tried, but success has been elusive. If Apple Watch does succeed, then it will be *the* case study for years to come on how to penetrate new markets, and we should be careful not to jump to conclusions.

      I’m determined to learn as much as I can from this.

      • Kenny

        I don’t think is a matter of function or implementation, or even fashion, because personally, I find that the Moto 360 has more character and are more fashionable for a man than all the others, including Apple one.

        it’s all about branding and marketing which i think is the reason why Apple is using the same marketing tactic that Beats by Dre to popularize their SmartWatch to the mainstream, I hope they’re succeed because as fan of technology, I really want this category to take off and drive the next phase of miniature innovation.

        • I agree that branding and marketing is very, very important, and might well be the reason why Apple Watch might succeed where the others have failed. Of course, in this article, Ben seems to think differently and that there is a genuine advantage to the Apple Watch compared to Android Wear devices. I haven’t used any yet, so I can’t really say either way, but the idea that branding and marketing will drive the success of the Apple Watch is nonetheless important.

          But on the other hand, Google also enjoys very strong brand recognition. Their brand at least rivals Apple’s in brand surveys. Then the question will be, why is Google’s brand weaker that Apple’s when it comes to introducing new category devices? Why didn’t Google’s brand help with Google Glass, for example?

          My hypothesis is that Google’s approach of “throwing stuff at the wall to see if it sticks” is damaging its brand when it comes to introducing new category devices. Google’s cannot convince customers that they should really try out their new category device, because in all likeliness, Google is just using customers as guinea pigs. At least, that is what their past attempts have signalled.

          On the other hand, when Apple introduces a new device, Apple is sending a strong message that “this product is truly great, and will change your lives”. They enforce this image through videos, interviews, Apple Stores, etc. Consumers can believe that message because Apple tends to only release well thought-out devices which have actually done so (of course, in reality there are a lot of flops as well).

          Although both Google and Apple enjoy exceptionally strong brand recognition, when it comes to new category devices, I think there is a huge difference. And that difference is deeply rooted in how these companies approach R&D.

          • Kenny

            you get it wrong

            Each company brand are trusted for what they are best at (i.e.) Google are known to be the best when it come to Web services as do Apple with the hardware. Consumers do not trust Google in hardware as much as Apple with Web services,

            The comparison
            should be between Apple and Samsung with their strong Galaxy brand.

          • joshalfie

            Android Wear is incredibly lacking in polish and is not well suited to circular watches. This is what happens when you have a haphazard approach to making products where one company makes the software and another makes the hardware.

            Additionally, the materials and clunky design of the Moto 360 makes it fairly unattractive for the average person who are concerned with the luxury aspect of watches. The Moto 360 is a product geared towards techies.

          • art hackett

            Hey, you get it wrong! Silly Apple fan.

          • Ooooooh

          • Space Gorilla

            “Why didn’t Google’s brand help with Google Glass, for example?”

            Any good salesperson will tell you the first step in selling is to have a product worth selling. Google Glass wasn’t good enough. It really is that simple.

            This brings up another lie when it comes to Apple analysis, the ridiculous idea that branding and marketing can turn a poor product into a real long term success. Nope.

            The brand just gets your foot in the door, allows you to make the introduction. If the product doesn’t deliver real benefits and a positive customer experience, it ain’t gonna succeed. If the Apple Watch doesn’t work well and deliver benefits (jobs-to-be-done), it will fail. Apple’s brand and marketing won’t save it.

      • Space Gorilla

        I am genuinely surprised by the amount of confusion re: Apple Watch. For me it’s simple. If a product is well made, does useful things for me, works well, and delivers value to me, I’ll buy it. Of course the user experience has to be smooth, simple, easy, that’s a given. I want a whole solution, the less points of friction the better.

        All that said, current wearables are about small conveniences, as Ben puts it, an additive experience. I’m convinced that only the premium segment of the market cares enough about this kind of value to pay for it. Apple dominates the premium segment. I do think we’ll see Apple Watch succeed while Android Wear struggles (until prices come way down and the additive experience grows).

        • klahanas

          I think you’re right on this one.

        • Marques Brownlee, that guy who makes very slick product review videos tweeted,

          What I’m getting from all these early Apple Watch reviews:
          Could fail because: It’s not that great.
          Could win because: Apple makes it.

          https://twitter.com/MKBHD/status/585800021427167232

          There has been a lot of literature on how difficult it is to create a new category product, the most well-known being Geoffrey Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm”. I would definitely say that it is not as simple as you state.

          It is far more important to understand Apple Watch in the context of previous studies and literature on the struggles that anyone should have when entering a new category device.

          A “Could win because: Apple makes it.” is not very helpful (not accusing you of it directly, but without further discussion, hard to exclude the possibility).

          • Space Gorilla

            In the consumer market it is pretty much that simple. A product works well and does something useful for the consumer (jobs-to-be-done) or it doesn’t. Now, making that product actually work well, that is enormously complex, but why a consumer product succeeds is very simple.

            It’s easy to misunderstand re: the Apple Watch because this first version is necessarily limited, as all of the first crop of wearables will be. So the jobs-to-be-done, the value, is additive, small conveniences. It’s a nice to have, not a must have. Most of the market won’t pay for this. But the segment that does value this is dominated by Apple. The must have part is coming though.

            That said, if the Apple Watch doesn’t actually work well, it won’t succeed. That’s the lie re: understanding Apple, it isn’t a cult with followers that will buy anything Apple makes. Apple products sell because they’re good. It’s a simple business model. Make something good, sell it for a profit. How you make something good is the hard part.

          • There are quite a few bloggers who come up with the idea that consumer markets are different, and since the past literature is based on B2B markets, the old theories do not apply. This has been some of the criticism towards Disruption Theory. If I understand correctly, you are making the same argument here.

            I am always bewildered as to how these bloggers can think that a) the exceptionally smart people who came out with those theories have not modified them to better accommodate new trends, b) they themselves can come up with better theories as they sit in front of their laptops.

            Just as an example, Geoffrey Moore has been hard at work adopting his Chasm thesis to the new marketing and business models enabled by the Internet, and the adoption of IT by consumers.

            https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140128170947-110300724-crossing-the-chasm-what-s-new-what-s-not?_mSplash=1

            Even if consumer markets are different, I would rather base my arguments on modifications made by Geoffrey Moore or Clayton Christensen themselves, instead of some ideas that bloggers have yet to articulate in a research article or book.

            If you are a startup with what you think is a great idea for a new category device, you obviously want to know how Apple has continued to succeed time and time again. Explanations like “Only Apple” or “because Apple makes it” or “because it works well” or “because they have the best customers already” are not going to help much for your startup.

            One the other hand, things like what Geoffrey Moore say are genuinely helpful. We need more of these.

          • Space Gorilla

            I read the article from the link you provided. Here’s a key quote “For consumer IT, there are four gears that need to spin up in harmony faster and faster to generate tornado winds.”

            I’m sorry, this is nonsense. Also, I hope you’re not calling me a blogger. I’m a business owner, and I’ve been selling most of my life, even as a kid. I know how to sell, and I know why people buy. The car salesman schtick you see on TV, that isn’t how you sell.

            You’re overthinking this, incredibly so. You’re a human, pause for a moment and *think* about why you buy the things you buy. You have a need or a desire, a job-to-be-done, and the product solves that for you, it provides a benefit. Once in hand the product delivers either a positive experience or a negative experience (with varying degrees of course). That is the beginning of your relationship with the company that sold you the product.

            I’m not looking to develop a theory, or to destroy existing theories, but I do know why humans buy things. It gets complicated when the end user is not also the buyer, but when the end user is making the purchase decision, it ain’t rocket science.

            I wonder if some of these complex theories crop up because people can’t accept the reality of Apple’s success. For so long so many people were convinced that Apple’s model couldn’t work, it wasn’t supposed to work, the experience Apple delivers isn’t supposed to resonate with the market. And it didn’t for a long while. But when computing changed and became consumer-facing, truly mainstream, I knew Apple would do very, very well. This happened with the iPhone, and my family bought a bunch of stock shortly after the iPhone launched. I saw the start of this with the colorful all-in-one iMac, and I almost put 20K into Apple right then, but computing wasn’t truly mainstream so I held off. The iPod was also a signal, but it wasn’t a computer. It was the launch of the iPhone that convinced me that computing was about to go mainstream, truly mainstream in the consumer market for the first time. I predicted Apple’s current success and I bet on it, and won.

            As I said, I know why people buy things. I suppose if you don’t have a lot of experience actually selling things, it seems like a mystery. Trust me when I tell you, it is no mystery. From the reviews I’ve read it does appear the Apple Watch works quite well and delivers a number of benefits (jobs-to-be-done). Prediction: It will succeed.

          • klahanas

            I have very many friends that are salesmen. I even like some of them! 🙂

          • Space Gorilla

            If they’re doing it right, that’s not at all surprising. The movie/TV version of salespeople is way out of whack. That isn’t how you sell successfully long term.

            EDIT: While I’m thinking of it, the latest Asymco podcast is relevant, it’s all about why people buy things: http://5by5.tv/criticalpath/146

          • art hackett

            The movie/TV version of everything is way out of whack. In their world, reality is boring. They don’t generally have much idea about about reality either and I’ve never worked out why, even after 35 years in media. For example, take any computer interaction in movies and TV. It’s like they imagine no one has used a computer, so they can depict any outrageous crap they like. They even still insist on zooming into 8 pixels on security cam vision and magically make it hi def. Out of whack also applies to most journalists these days bizarrely.

          • Space Gorilla

            “The movie/TV version of everything is way out of whack. In their world, reality is boring.”

            Spot on. When I was 13 or 14 I was selling programs at a local sports tournament, walking up and down the stands asking people nicely if they would like a program, and selling lots of them. The local TV news wanted a shot of me selling programs, but told me the way I was doing it wasn’t exciting enough. They asked me to walk up the bleachers yelling “Get yer programs!” So I did that and that’s the clip that was on the news, and yet it was a lie.

          • art hackett

            You can apply that experience to pretty much every story (that’s what they call them) on the “news”. Any time you see an item on something you know or understand, it’s likely to be wrong or a lie.
            It wasn’t always like that, but it has developed into a tool to distract or confuse the population about the real issues and what’s really happening around them. The frog in the pot scenario if you will.
            The only thing you can be sure about is that some major event, earthquake, flood, plane crash has happened. Other than that, follow the money.

          • These theories and the discussion surrounding Apple Watch and other wearables is not about how you sell sustaining products. These are about how you sell new category products.

            New category products have unique challenges including how to effectively communicate the merits and how they apply to the jobs to be done.

            Importantly, the main marketing message up till now for the Apple Watch has been “personal” or “intimate”. Not so much on the jobs to be done.

          • Space Gorilla

            Apple has already moved on to the jobs-to-be-done with the how to guides re: Watch. We’ll see more of that coming up, just as the early iPhone ads were all essentially how to ads demonstrating different jobs-to-be-done. I actually had a recent discussion with someone who believed that teaching people how to use the iPhone wasn’t an issue Apple had to deal with. This was in the context of the Apple Watch failing because people will have to learn to use it. That is completely wrong, the first wave of advertising for the iPhone was about teaching people how to use it, showing the jobs-to-be-done.

            How you sell a product doesn’t change simply because it’s a new category. You still have to articulate the benefits. I’m always amazed by how poor a job many companies do of this. I’m sure everyone has had the experience of watching an ad on TV and halfway through you have no idea what product is being advertised. That is not a good sales job. And that kind of advertising maybe stems from nonsense like spinning up gears to create tornado winds.

            If you haven’t already have a listen to the latest Asymco podcast, it is exactly on topic: http://5by5.tv/criticalpath/146

          • Although I may have missed some commercials since I’m not located in th US, the TV ad that you can see on YouTube seems to be a quick flash of the features and a display of the various bands.

            https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ql0Z8Il73s

            More than anything, it reminds me of the unveiling of the Apple Watch on September, which many people criticised for its lack of focus and central compelling reason to buy.

            The guide type videos are very recent, and although they are very important in the final stages of the sale, Apple clearly hasn’t positioned jobs to be done as the way to gain attention. I’ve even read some reports that the demo units in the stores that you try on aren’t even functional, but just replay a few screens. They aren’t even focusing on letting the customer see how well it works.

            Which brings me back to the new category issue. It’s easy to explain a jobs to be done if the customer is aware of his problems. And can see for him/herself how the product will solve that. Otherwise, you typically have to explain the value, hence the importance of sales staff.

            The way I see it, Apple’s launch strategy actually de-emphasises strong jobs to be done, or at least defers it till late into the sales cycle. Instead, design, personalisation, craftsmanship and brand are at the centre of their marketing push.

          • Space Gorilla

            Well, the very first iPhone ad wasn’t a jobs-to-be-done ad either. I was a bit lazy talking about the iPhone ads. The very first ad was that Hello ad (an introduction), but then they moved on to the how to jobs-to-be-done ads (which I consider the real first wave of ads).

            Actually this Watch ad you’ve linked does show a fair number of jobs-to-be-done, but you’re right, it’s not focused on that, it has more of an introductory feel. Apple will move on to jobs-to-be-done, I’m sure of that. If we think of it in terms of selling, you do have to take that first step of introducing the product. The second step is the jobs-to-be-done, articulating the benefits. But the introduction is a brief period. So far this is all a basic approach to sales.

            “Otherwise, you typically have to explain the value, hence the importance of sales staff.”

            Never tell, always show. This basic concept is why word of mouth is so powerful. Of course ‘show and tell’ go together but showing is always more powerful. That’s why much of Apple’s advertising is exactly that, showing the product being used.

          • I agree. Apple will push the jobs-to-be-done in the second step.

            And yes, word of mouth is the most powerful medium, hence the importance of customer satisfaction.

            The way Apple is doing demos in their Apple Store is also very interesting in relation to the sales process. Apparently, they do not let you put a working model on your wrist, and even if they did, since it won’t be paired to your iPhone, the demos will be limited. Given that a smartwatch currently has to be tethered to your iPhone, which will complicate the sales process, Apple seems to have given quite a lot of thought on how to hide the complexity during the in-store demos, while giving customers a good enough reason to buy.

          • Space Gorilla

            The Watch is necessarily high touch, as far as the sales approach. In case you don’t know sales lingo, high touch means more direct contact with the customer in order to close the sale and build the relationship. I probably just told you something you already knew 🙂

            It will be interesting to see how Apple develops the sales strategy around the Watch. But back to my original point, Apple isn’t doing anything mysterious here, this is all basic sales techniques. The difference I suppose is that Apple does it very well while so many companies do it poorly (dancing in the boardroom Surface ads for example).

            I suppose another consideration is profit margin, Apple has the margins to allow it to do more things properly, to not cut corners or get lazy. Also, the direct relationship with the consumer (profit motivation) drives Apple to do things well. Is there any other tech company that has such a direct relationship with consumers?

          • joshalfie

            You and Space Gorilla are having a very interesting discussion. I must add that 2 of your questions seem to have gone unresolved.

            1. Apple is focusing on “design, personalisation, craftsmanship and brand” as opposed to “jobs-to-be-done”.

            This is still a job-to-be-done sales promotion. A wearable device must first adhere to aesthetic and style taste. The first job of a watch is to make the wearer feel “good” by wearing something “nice”. If Apple cannot make customers feel this then they will never get to the other functions because people will just not wear it. In comparing to traditional watches the language they have used to market this watch is identical. Watch companies have been doing this for decades. This is how you are supposed to sell a watch. The other functionality is just a bonus – and a very useful bonus at that.

            2. Apple does not give you a working model to use.

            This is false. Apple stores are fitted with table top demo units that are use interactive where the customer can play with the full breath of features of the watch. The try on watches run a loop that is not interactive but the demo units give the customer a complete idea on exactly how the watches work.

          • Space Gorilla

            Thanks for pointing out the job-to-be-done of wearing a nice watch. That’ll be the first job-to-be-done of any wearable. If it doesn’t look good enough to wear, it can’t succeed, at least not in the premium segment anyway.

          • I understand your first point to a certain extent. I do think that there is a hard ceiling to that approach however. The ceiling is the number of people who wear mid-, high-end watches. We know that the number is quite small.

            I think Apple might be planning a multi-staged marketing approach, first focusing on fashion and craftsmanship, and then moving on to utility demonstration.

            The second point is something that I honestly don’t understand very well. Being a tech guy, I’ve never really had a store attendant walk me through a tech purchase, and I don’t know how functional the demo unit must be informative enough. Tabletop demo units will obviously not be able to monitor your heart beat or send you haptic feedback, and that may or may not be OK. It’s also likely that notifications won’t come to that demo unit. This suggests that even with a tabletop demo unit, it won’t be able to demonstrate at least half of the unique Watch capabilities.

            It does seem a bit complicated, even with a tabletop demo unit.

          • joshalfie

            I’ve actually had a try on appointment and played with the demo units personally. The try on watch runs through a loop that shows you how notifications appear and also how the haptic feedback feels.

            The table top units provide the customer with information how how the software works. They can see how heart rate is displayed, how sending messages work, how calling works, how Glances work, how to customise the watch faces, how Force Touch works, etc. The only thing I’m currently aware of that the customer cannot experience is voice control through Siri as well as other things like how to pair with the iPhone, downloading apps, making and receiving actual calls. But you can’t even do these on iPhone demo units either. Overall the customer should walk away with a pretty complete understanding of how the watch and the software works. You also don’t need an appointment to play with the table top units.

            *****************
            “I think Apple might be planning a multi-staged marketing approach, first focusing on fashion and craftsmanship, and then moving on to utility demonstration. I think this is necessary to reach a broader market.”

            I feel that there is a large market that wants a well made watch but cannot justify the price because of a lack of function of the traditional watch. The fact that my mother wants an Apple Watch purely because of its design even though she may not have any functional need for it shows that Apple has nailed this prerequisite. It must at the bare minimum have aesthetic appeal. In this type of product form is vastly more important than function. It needs to satisfy emotional wants before people will even consider its functional capabilities. So yes absolutely function will give it broader appeal but only after people think its “nice”.

            I will differ with your statement here in that Apple must move on to utility demonstration after pushing fashion and craftsmanship. Sure Apple will demonstrate what the watch can do but fashion and craftsmanship will always be front and centre. The functional aspect will sell itself in the long run through word of mouth. If Apple has really nailed the functional aspect (which I believe they have from my own try on experience) then those satisfied customers will do the marketing for Apple themselves.

          • Thank you for detailing your experience at the Apple Store. The table top units sound very interesting. I’m sure Apple put a lot of effort into developing these.

            If I recall correctly, Apple executives have been on record discussing how important the Apple Stores were for introducing the iPad. It seems that for the Apple Watch, Apple is putting even more effort into the Stores. At the end of the day, this might be one of the key reasons why Apple is successful at introducing new-category products, while their competitors are not. Apple’s vertical integration extends all the way up to retail and marketing.

            Regarding Apple moving to utility demonstration, I agree that word-of-mouth will ultimately be the strongest factor. I still think however, we may see more commercials like the recent ones for iPad or iPhone where they show people actually using their devices for a certain purpose. The table top units might also play a role because what they are doing is showing how to use a Watch. If Apple chooses to demo the Apple Watch outside of their stores, we might find these table top units at department stores and other, even maybe not-so-high-end outlets.

          • art hackett

            I suspect the advertising is either to distract from the product’s deficiencies or no one understands what it’s supposed to do (or possibly even care). The vaguer the ad, the less direction the client has given and attempts to compensate by throwing more money at it.
            This will result in the “what the hell was that about” syndrome. The advertísers are generally as clueless as the client, mostly resulting in the dazzle ’em with BS approach. In movies and TV, the montage sequence indicates lack of direction and weakness of concept.

          • Space Gorilla

            “Another thing that is interesting is how is it that only Apple can make something work well, despite the ideas being basically the same as Android Wear?”

            Easy. Vertical integration, making the whole widget. I recognized this as a teenager when we bought the first Mac in 1984. I thought “This is the way to do it, make the whole thing.” This and paying attention to the details, the design, the user experience, simplifying. Small things matter, they make a difference. It doesn’t take much friction to take an experience from very good to mediocre. This should be obvious to anyone who used both Macs and Windows PCs through the late 80s and into the 90s. Set personal bias aside, delete all your filters, shed your preconceived notions, these two experiences were vastly different, even though it was really just a bunch of small details that separated the two products.

          • I’m probably as much an Apple fan as you are, having the same experience with my first Mac, a Mac SE in the early 90s. And yes, I understand the idea that small things matter. Similar to what Jony Ive has also said, I felt a lot of “care” in the UI, and I’ve never felt that on a Windows PC.

            So no, it’s not really my perceived notions, because my perceptions are actually the same as yours, and I ordered my Apple Watch yesterday.

            I am asking these questions because I am troubled by the inability of any tech giant or startup to create a mass-market new-category device. In the software and services sector, we have seen nice innovations in productivity, search and social networks, etc. However, in the devices sector, the only new-market categories that seem to penetrate the mass market were all popularised by Apple. This is from the GUI to the smartphone to the tablet and possibility to the smartwatch.

            A year ago, when the promising wearable market was clearly having trouble gaining traction, a common thesis was that it would eventually expand, but only after Apple entered. There is so much reliance on Apple and I’m not sure that this is healthy.

            For the sake of the tech industry as a whole, I think we need to dissect Apple. Vertical integration is surely one key to the puzzle. However, how far should one extend vertical integration? Apple’s vertical integration is no only in the product, but is also clearly in distribution. There have been rumours that Apple is also integrating an Ad agency.

            If all of this is what was necessary to launch a smartwatch successfully, then one could say that without Apple, nobody could have pulled it off.

            And that’s just sad.

          • art hackett

            What astounds me also, is that I have not come across any device or interface to a device, unless it’s from Apple, that isn’t confusing, confounding, irritating, stupid and generally unclear, unless it’s an analogue knob or switch, and even then it’s generally line ball.
            There must be someone else that can make something that if useful, is easy to use, but I sure can’t remember any, even Sony.
            Interfaces on DVD players, TVs, amplifiers, cars, toasters, microwaves, watches, or anything with a micro computer are unbelievably dorky, unhelpful and time consuming, but why?
            It seems only Apple spends the time working on the why and how long enough to make a device almost intuitive to use, rather than the opposite. You don’t need to have Aspergers to make it work, or a sledgehammer to stop the pain.

          • Space Gorilla

            To be clear, I’m not an Apple fan, I just like well-designed things that serve me well. Poorly designed things annoy me, from doorknobs to books to software to tables to tools, and so on. I’m a designer, but also a builder (I built my house), and a farmer (until just this year as we rented all our land now). So I have some understanding of how things are made, how they work. I am often disappointed at the lack of thoughtful design that goes into so many products and services.

            So, why does it seem that only Apple can successfully launch new products? I think it goes back to the ‘whole widget’ concept, vertical integration, curation, the closed system. Apple makes the whole widget, this allows them to focus on details that matter, to shape the end user experience. I’m beginning to think this kind of closed system and vertical integration is the minimum requirement to succeed in the premium consumer segment, as Apple does.

            The best customers do not want a cobbled together modular product which is touched and shaped by many different companies. There’s no singular vision. The lie in much analysis of Apple is that there’s no difference between the experience of using Apple products and the experience of using the cheaper modular products (Windows PC, Android). But as I mentioned before, the difference is obvious.

            Apple offers a complete solution, I can get computing devices from wrist to desktop, all well supported and plugged into a great ecosystem, all working together, and all from a single vendor.

            If I want to buy a new Ford truck, I go down to my local Ford dealer and I buy it. One vendor, complete solution (whole widget), closed and curated system. If I have trouble with my Ford truck, I know where to go, who to call. I have a direct relationship with Ford.

            Now, back to your question, why can’t other tech companies do this? I think it’s because they can’t offer a complete solution, they don’t make the whole widget, they don’t have a closed and curated system at work (and they don’t believe in closed and curated systems to begin with). There’s little chance of any tech company catching up to Apple in this regard. It took Apple decades to build to what it is now. This cannot be copied in a few short years.

          • klahanas

            “To be clear, I’m not an Apple fan”

            Then dear friend (friendly nemesis?), you must be a vampire because you clearly can’t see your reflection in a mirror!

            Team Edward on Twilight? 😉

          • Rob bennet

            >> One the other hand, things like what Geoffrey Moore say are genuinely helpful. We need more of these.

            Maybe one good source to understand some of the reasons Apple does so well is to read about luxury marketing and luxury branding.

            I’ve started to think so after reading [1] and seeing many of the recommendations there apply to Apple. There are also books on the subject(but they’re a bit boring to my taste, especially for something that is just a hobby, so i haven’t read them yet).

            [1]http://www.themanager.org/Marketing/Eternal_principles_for_luxory_brands.htm

          • I personally struggle with the idea that luxury marketing is the way to understand the Apple Watch, and Apple in general. I understand the similarities and parallels you can draw. However, the demographics of consumers who tend to buy luxury goods, and the demographics of those who buy Apple products does not really match.

            For example, it’s very easy to understand that people who drive Mercedes would be strongly inclined to buy luxury watches, or fly first class. However, for Apple, that isn’t the case. In my case for example, my house is covered with Apple products. However I drive a regular Toyota and our furniture is mostly IKEA. My clothes are from affordable brands like Uniqlo. I’m just not a luxury guy and I don’t really value the qualities that luxury products provide. What’s important for me is that the job gets done. I’m sure many Apple users, especially in developed countries, are like myself.

            Secondly, the price of an Apple Watch is actually pretty cheap, especially for a tech product. It is clearly in the range of the iPads, starting with the Sport which is cheaper than an iPad mini 3. Although there is an aura of luxury set by the gold Edition, the reality is that the Apple Watch is quite affordable.

            So my impression is that yes, there are similarities with what Apple is doing and how luxury marketing works. However, I don’t think Apple is relying on luxury marketing techniques, other than creating an aura, to launch the Apple Watch.

          • Rob bennet

            First, i think the iPhone is bought due to many reasons, and only one of them is luxury marketing and is not the whole story – but it an important part for some people. For example if you look at china – the iPhone is huge status symbol.

            So it could just be that the huge surge we’re seeing of watch preorders, even before people get to try them at friends , or hear good reviews from many people(and the reviews were pretty bad) is just bought by people in the segment which is targeted by luxury/status/fashion(and fashion has a very strong tie to luxury/status). And that would make sense for a watch.

            Certainly the fact that apple shipped a lot of watches to china does indicate that.

            An certainly, the example you give of yourself, a non-luxury seeking iPhone buyer does support this theory, because, hey, you didn’t buy the watch, and is quite puzzled about why.

            And as for general theories – it could be there’s a general theory behind Apple, but it a bit complex and requires to understand all the parts – how they do luxury marketing, how they use leverage, how they design products, etc – because all the parts integrate with one another in a way that bigger than the sum of parts.

            And btw, as for apple’s luxury variant, it’s called affordable luxury, perceived as luxury but with prices that many can afford, and it’s a trend among luxury marketers.

          • I ordered my Apple Watch within hours of the launch.

            I’m saying that you don’t have to be a luxury guy to appreciate Apple products.

            I would actually be very surprised if the majority of people who have ordered already, bought it based on its luxury status.

          • Rob bennet

            Why have you personally ordered it ? And why haven’t you ordered another watch before, say the pebble?

          • I have a Nike Fuelband. I would wear it more often if it was more convenient to tell the time. A month ago, I was actually wearing a mechanical watch on my left wrist and the Fuelband on my right. It would also be more valuable if it took heartbeat measurements. I quickly started to doubt the actual meaning of counting just Nike Fuel.

            A Pebble. Well my impression is that a Pebble tells everybody around you that you are a geek. I may be wrong, but that’s how I see it. Also, similar to the Fuelband, the lack of heartbeat measurements also means that you’re not going to get really meaningful health information.

            For me, fashion is basically a “hygienic” issue. Anything is OK as long as it’s not disgusting, or as long as it doesn’t attract attention in a bad way. The Pebble and other humongous smartwatches fail in that regard.

            For me, the Apple Watch is great because it promises to have meaning features implemented correctly. The size and prominence of the heartbeat monitor, for example, is a huge reassurance that the health measurements are for real. The same with notifications. Even before trying it out, I can trust Apple to have worked out the wrinkles, or at least fix them in due course. One important aspect is that the Apple Watch actually puts an emphasis on acting on notifications by using short prepared messages or emoji, which, as far as I know, has been lacking in other smartwatches. That’s actually what I do with my iPhone all the time when I respond to messages from my wife.

            I’ll conclude by saying that I do expect a real benefit from having a device on my wrist. I do find it much more convenient to be able to quickly tell the time without pulling out my smartphone, especially when I’m trying to catch a train, or make sure I’m in time for a meeting. I’d also like to be able to check messages while driving by simply glancing on my wrist, which is on the steering wheel.

        • art hackett

          Android where? Geeks that hate Apple and will use any POS so long as it doesn’t have the mark of the fruit on it are not a “market” segment worth worrying about. Unless they start strapping on bomb vests I suppose. Those that bought pre Watch wearables are likely to be wary of trying another one.
          There are many reasons other wrist computers haven’t taken off and mostly gather dust in drawers or shops, while it appears that the Watch is going gangbusters at least initially, and it’s not down to just “marketing” by the fruit company. Until Android who cares had something to copy, it was a pointless device, but now they (non iOS device makers) have a target. Their myopia though will insure they just keep hitting the wall.

    • Kizedek

      This really seems to be your stock reply for any Apple product. I could have predicted it almost word for word, and I am sure Space Gorilla could have, too.

      For my part, I just can’t see what all the fuss is about coffee. I mean it’s all the same, right? Just brown water with some kind of bitter taste. At the end of the day, all you do is drink it. So, really, why do people not make do with a mug, a spoon, a kettle and a jar of instant coffee?

      And what’s all this fuss about different kinds of coffee makers that improve the “experience”? What’s that all about. If you must, grab a thirty-dollar filter machine that you can slap any generic, commodity paper filter into and be done with it. It makes coffee, right? Who wants a cafetiere or espresso machine for twice the price? Pffwaa. Anyone who actually tells you they enjoy the “experience” of a “good cup of coffee” is totally delusional and has already succombed to complete reality distortion by some elitist Italian engineering company that shouldn’t be allowed to exist. I mean, I drink coffee, just like everyone else on the planet. It’s no big deal, I can take it or leave it. There is no better way to roast beans, store them, grind them, and infuse them into water than any other. Anyone who tells you so made a mistake, persists in living a lie, and now just wants to drag you down with them.

      Well, that was fun. Now back to the real world where I really do enjoy a decent cup of coffee, and I really do enjoy the experience of making it just how I like to make it. I haven’t had instant coffee for more than 12 years, and I don’t regret it.

    • Financial Planner Dude

      has been available on Android

      the point the iHaters miss is that this is the whole point. Android pioneers an idea Apple than takes it and makes it way better and in the process earns all the profit.

      BTW I’ve noticed since the iphone 6 plus the iHaters are a lot quieter!

  • aardman

    I’m beginning see what Jony meant by “the Swiss are screwed”, or words to that effect. It’s not that Apple will make a wrist watch that will match and beat the best Swiss timepieces. It’s that Apple will make the wrist computer a necessity in the coming ultra-connected world. The spot that used to be reserved for signaling your reproductive fitness will have to take a slightly more utilitarian function.

    It’s not so much the Swiss being beaten at their game by Apple. It’s Apple usurping the spot on the affluent human’s anatomy that, heretofore, was the exclusive preserve of the Swiss.

    Or at least that’s Apple’s plan.

    • klahanas

      As long as it doesn’t become like “old money versus new money”.

    • art hackett

      That’s it. The previous placeholder is made largely irrelevant. Like the iPhone blew away the old generic cellphone (of any price) and the ipad replaced the majority of uses of the computer for most people (even for me).
      The game is changed.

  • Old Homeless Guy

    The best review so far.

  • Great review, Ben; one of the few reviews about the Apple Watch I enjoyed reading.

    I also wrote my initial thoughts on it. You can find it at dazne.me.

  • Excellent article, Ben. Thank you.

  • ChaelAZ

    Hi Ben,

    Since you mentioned tennis, how was the fitness tracking as far as distance, calories, heart rate monitor? Just curious. I have tried so many different fitness tracking units and have been disappointed with all of them really. I still use my (discounted immediately after I bought it) MotoActv and it has been about as accurate as any, especially with a chest strap HRM. Thanks for any opinions.

  • P-A Gustafsson

    Have you tried the Tennis Watch app for Apple Watch? If you like to use your watch during tennis activity. http://www.tennis.watch

  • Cesta Sol2

    nice watch………

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