Apple should’ve made their watch round

The Apple Watch is quite a remarkable piece of tech. It’s impressively small for what it’s capable of, and it boasts a pretty pleasing UI, something that cannot be said of many watch interfaces out there… but while it may be remarkable, it’s also got some pretty catastrophic flaws.

Apple hasn’t released any sales stats about the Apple Watch yet. Why? It’s not selling nearly as well as they’d anticipated. Smart watches have always been viewed as being a bit on the geeky side, so Apple had a difficult job of making the watch ‘cool’. Even Obama has boycotted the Apple Watch in favor of a Fitbit Surge. Check out: Obama uses Fitbit to get a fit bod while snubbing Apple Watch on Cult of Mac. It just ain’t cool.

There were two major ways that Apple could have made their watch cool… and they absolutely nailed one of them, I might add.

The price

The price of the Apple Watch was no mistake. The 38mm Apple Watch Sport (the entry level product) is $500. Personally I thought that one was a bit too small, so I have the 42mm model, priced at $579. This is a high price even for Apple. Granted, the tech inside is pretty unique (OLED display, every motion sensor imaginable, heart rate monitors, high quality microphone and speaker), but it still isn’t all that much more than what’s found in a Fitbit Charge HR or similar fitness device… and you can pick up one of them for a measly $230; less than half the price of the most basic Apple Watch. Also keep in mind that the Charge HR is not Fitbit’s entry level product, it’s closer to the top of the range.

While Fitbits might be more popular than Apple Watches, I believe this is not really because of the price — people will pay for something that’s trendy. I believe it’s more because of the form factor of the Apple Watch.

The shape

Fitbits aren’t watch replacements for most people. They allow people to still wear whatever trendy, stylish watches they please. The Apple Watch doesn’t. Who’s going to wear an Apple Watch and an analog watch? Nobody. And this is why the Apple Watch isn’t selling (IMO). The Apple Watch, while it might be a good looking piece of tech, it’s not a good looking watch. And no, the fact you can change the watch face doesn’t make any difference to this as the screen is black almost all of the time. Take a look at the GQ Watch Guide of 2015 and count the number of square-faced watches you see. There aren’t many.

Watches are a piece of fashion. Their primary function for many people is not even to tell the time (we have phones for that) it’s to look good. The Apple Watch does not allow any kind of customisation, personalisation or tailoring short of changing the strap. With regular watches, you can select from thousands of different designs.

Android Wear is also a pretty impressive product. It may not have quite the fitness focus that the Apple Watch has, but it offers far more variations. The devices pictured above are just a few of the many Android Wear products available.

There is a clear reason for this, though. Android (Google) doesn’t necesarily have to be responsible for the hardware design. They’ve done the same as Microsoft did with Windows and allowed any hardware company to install the OS on their own products, meaning that big name watch brands like Rolex or Seiko are completely capable of making their own smart watches running Android Wear’s OS.

That’s all well and good, but Apple isn’t going to do that. They’ve always been a ‘hardware and software as one’ company which is why you can’t buy a Dell laptop off the shelf running OS X. Instead of allowing anybody to make their own Apple Watches, Apple will continue partnering with companies like Hermès to build slightly tweaked products whose main design change is the strap.

So… until Apple can either make their tech so good that we just don’t care about it looking like shit anymore, or partner with enough companies to build properly custom products, the watch really isn’t going to sell any better.