When it was first announced back in September, I asked members of our community if they had plans to buy the Apple Watch. As with any new Apple product, there was a tremendous amount of interest. Surprisingly, that hasn’t translated into definitive purchase plans. I’ve seen more and more saying, “I’m not buying the Apple Watch.” These aren’t fence sitters, with most offering up a clear cut no, when asked. Granted this is an incredibly small number of folks, but one that falls into the enthusiast category or those who don’t mind increasing their gadget budgets. So why the resistance and will things change come April?
Price Is A Big Factor
We don’t much yet about Apple Watch pricing, other than the starting price of $349. You could presume that’s for the bare-bones Sport model. It’s meant for those who have an active lifestyle or looking for the value in the Watch line-up. The bands are what will help to define the product price points. This one is made from ‘high-performance fluoroelastomer.’ Say that ten times quick.
Let’s talk about pricing. If we look at the competitors, strictly from pricing, Apple is only slightly more expensive. The Moto 360, Samsung Galaxy Gear 2 and LG G Watch are all $299.99. Without having used Apple’s Watch, I can say with a fair amount of comfort, that $50 seems like an extremely small price to pay from Apple’s take on a smartwatch. The price is right, if not an extremely good value.
The trouble isn’t with the value or pricing. I bet there is plenty of value in a BMW X5, but it’s not in my budget. The iPhone still remains the centerpiece of most gadget budgets. This was an incredibly big upgrade cycle, with Apple reporting almost 75 million iPhones sold last quarter. Not only did people buy new iPhones, they also bought more expensive iPhones. Apple’s move to stick only 16GB of storage in the base model, likely had an influence on people who spent an additional $100 for the 64GB model. A smart move for buyers, but one that might not have been necessary if it came with 32GB. This upgrade cycle also saw two new models and people who were clamoring for bigger than big phone, got just that with the iPhone 6 Plus. Cost, an extra $100. All in, with a subsidy, these upgrades can cost double the normal outlay of $199. This can have a direct impact on available cash for technology expenditures, namely the $350 or more, Apple Watch.
Understanding How It Fits In My Technology Ecosystem
iPhones are easy to understand and have been since 2008. Before the iPhone, I was using a Palm Treo that would split time with a Moto Q. I knew smartphones and the value of them. I didn’t need to hold the original iPhone in my hand to know that it was going to completely obliterate those phones. Phones that I had adored, now managed to suck. The applications, were all familiar, but done the Apple way. For people shifting from a flip phone, their worlds were going to be turned upside down, in a good way. The iPhone was a better phone. I was replacing something in my ecosystem with something better.
When a new product category comes along, there is no reference point. Smartwatches are still very new. If you own an iPhone, you can’t use any of the Android Wear watches. The only real option for iOS users has been the Pebble. The bulk of potential Apple Watch customers are not walking around with a smart device strapped to their wrist. They get through their day just fine with their iPhones. Apple needs to convey that you’re missing out, that a void exists. That might be hard to do through a keynote or 60-second advertisement. If you peruse Apple’s website, there is a tremendous amount of focus on the design and quality of the hardware. While important, it’s also expected, if you’ve used Apple products for any significant amount of time. The real inhibitor to new customers is trying to convey the value-add of the software and how it improves your current workflow and communication. That’s something that might only come through reviews and feedback from friends and family.
We’ve Been Here Before
It costs too much. I don’t need it, I have my iPhone. Does this sound at all familiar? Back in 2010, I posed a similar question to the community regarding the original iPad. There was similar responses, with roughly 69% of folks saying they weren’t buying it. The iPad was nothing more than a big iPhone, right? As one member wrote:
I will not be buying the tablet. Even if it does generate limitless amounts of bacon. I simply have too many avenues and methods to get online as it is. I’m certainly not needing any more media enrichment in my life.
Admittedly, back then, I had some reservations about how it would fit into my digital life. And while I still use my iPhone much more than my iPad, losing it would create a huge void. With new technology, it’s difficult to assess that how and where it fits. iPhone upgrades are easy. It’s easy to spend an extra $100 for 4 times the storage or a bigger screen. The Apple Watch has to prove that all these years, there has been a void in your technology ecosystem, one that gets neatly filled for $350. I for one am anxious to experience it, come this April, how about you?