Thoughts on the Apple Watch

A lot (or maybe too much) has been written about this device, considering that it isn’t even publicly available yet. On the other hand, Apple’s made it no small secret that this watch is a Big Deal™ and is — arguably — hyping it up more than any other product in its history.

Not even the iPhone got as much pre-release attention and focus as the Apple Watch has been getting. Apple knows that hype is basically free marketing. Get people excited about stuff, and you sell more of it.

You need look no further than the BBQ joints in Austin like Franklin and La Barbeque, where people routinely start queuing at 7am and will wait 6+ hours to get a nice chunk of juicy brisket (yes, it’s worth it).

Are there other BBQ joints? Yes, tons.

Are others are good as these two? Some would say yes, others would say no. Absolutes are hard with food.

Now guess which place everyone I talked to at SXSW this year asked if I’d been to (do you really need an answer?).

The Apple Watch is an experiment. An experiment with a lot of up-front investment and interest, but an experiment nonetheless. Given the option of hyping it up, building up interest, and releasing or announcing availability on Day 1, the first is the much, much safer bet.

The Apple of 2007 didn’t have the luxury of waiting. Now it does.

Even at the low end, $349 is an ambitious price-point for a device that’s expected to be replaced every few years. And — for us early adopters out there — that replacement timeline will be even shorter. When you consider that most of our phones are subsidized by carriers and require minimal out-of-pocket expense, these watches quickly become one of the most costly items Apple users will own (out of pocket — not taking into account extra monthly wireless fees due to subsidies).

Then, there’s the target market. Is this marketed at regular Apple users, people who like smart watches, people who use Fitbits and other activity wearables, or mechanical watch wearers? Each group seems like it’ll be a hard sell, in each of their own ways.

The cost equation is what really doesn’t add up for me for any of them.

If there were some sort of way to replace the guts of the watch without buying a new one every few years, the Watch would have a much better value proposition — but alas, there isn’t. And it doesn’t appear to be in the pipeline, either.

So, with all the above in mind, it’s no wonder that Apple is so heavily targeting the fashion market. Other potential users will need time to be won over. The fashion market is an easy target because the Apple Watch can appeal in ways that other (more nerdy?) watches can’t.

With this reasoning, a full-page Apple Watch ad in Vogue is what one would expect. Likewise, I wouldn’t be expecting one in WIRED anytime soon.

This is a watch for people who care how they look, and who want an accessory that is functional, beautiful, cool, and (perhaps) overpriced (yes, that is a feature). But, what sort of fashion object isn’t?

The Apple Watch is a digital watch that isn’t really a digital watch. It’s a gorgeous watch that just happens to have a battery in it.

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