The Cultural Behemoth Apple and the Potential of the Apple Watch

Refuge Marketing dark logo

By Vlad Vidaeff

I’m 28 years old.  I grew up during a time of unprecedented technological innovation.  I am part of the first generation that used computers as children.  I am part of the first generation that used cell phones.  I am part of the first generation that used social media.  Looking back at how things were before technological armageddon, it’s truly extraordinary to see how far we’ve come.  It’s no exaggeration to say that Apple has played an important role in my life.  As I progressed from adolescence to becoming an adult, the introduction of a new Apple product was always met with excitement.  The iPod?  Bought it.  MacBook?  Bought it.  iPhone?  Bought it.  Apple Watch?  Nope.

To give you some context, the Apple Watch was officially launched on April 10.  In a way, you can think of an Apple Watch as a combination of an iPhone and a traditional watch.  From a functional perspective, Apple offers several different styles of Apple Watches to serve as a fashion statement: modern, sport, and traditional.  Each Watch has a different price point depending on its sophistication.  From a technical perspective, the Apple Watch allows you to connect with others, keep track of your health and fitness, and much more.

Fast forward three months.  Apple Watch sales have plunged 90% since opening week.  Currently, Apple is selling about 20,000 watches a day.  A sharp drop from the 200,000 a day they were selling during opening week.  It seems like the market mirrors my lack of excitement towards the new product as sales have been disappointing.  What has been Apple’s strategy in marketing the device and what can we glean towards its future?

Apple has targeted its ads towards women by featuring the device in fashion magazines such as Vogue.  The luxury watch industry as a whole has similarly focused on the fashion industry for the past decade.  So, is Apple following the charge of its competitors?  Aren’t we used to seeing Apple act as THE innovator?  Especially for a brand with such a high degree of consumer loyalty, a significant percentage whom are men, it’s possible to make an argument that Apple is missing the boat.  To further complicate matters, this is the first product Apple has introduced since the death of Steve Jobs.  Many consumers understandably are a bit concerned about the passing of a visionary who had such a significant impact on the creative direction of the company.  How does a company continue its success when its head has been cut off?

While it is too early to tell, the success or failure of the Apple Watch will also largely determine the success or failure of the smartwatch industry.  Apple’s smartwatch competitors need the Apple Watch to succeed,” said Ian Fogg, Senior Director of Mobile & Telecoms at IHS.  This is partially due to the fact that the smartwatch industry is in its infancy.  If the Apple Watch fails, consumers would be less likely to give another offering a chance.

Most marketers are hoping that the Apple Watch will succeed due to the wealth of information that can be gathered from users of the device.  While different companies would gain different benefits, some of the most substantial include real-time marketing, health data, and mobile payments.  Since your Apple Watch is connected to Bluetooth, retailers are able to send you personalized messages using information gained from your browsing history.  By tracking your purchases, retailers can serve you with relevant ads based on your interests.  Second, the Apple Watch can be used to track blood sugar monitoring, exercise habits, and other health-related information.  This information is extremely valuable to the health care industry.  Lastly, with the launch of Apple Pay, Apple is encouraging the market to adopt mobile payment.  Like your cell phone, Apple Watches can be used for these types of transactions.

Only time will tell whether the Apple Watch will be a success according to Apple’s lofty standards.  I personally side with the ‘Negative Ned’ camp.  It’s not because Apple has lost its innovator and visionary.  I just don’t really see the need for the device for most consumers.  The iPod was a vast improvement over Walkmans.  The Mac is a vast improvement over Windows computers.  Yup, I said it and I stand by it.  The iPhone has everything you need in a cell phone.  Are smart watches vast improvements over traditional watches?  In many ways, yes.  But I barely even wear a watch.  And when I do, it’s a fashion statement.  My battery has died so I don’t even care about telling time using my watch.  I have my iPhone for that!


Please enter your name.
Please enter a message.