Dissatisfaction Learnings

First insights into unsatisfied Apple Watch owners

November 30 , 2015

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In our effort to provide the independent voice of Apple Watch, it’s also been important to us over the last months to research the negative opinions and insights on this revolutionary new product.

Some perspective to keep in mind first. While about 12% of our panelists have mentioned in prior survey knowing at least one person who wasn’t happy with Apple Watch, the same panel gave Apple Watch a 97% satisfaction rating in July confirmed by a 96% approval rating in October. In other words, Apple Watch is truly loved by the vast majority of its users.

That aside, we have had to wait until earlier this month and the help of Philip Elmer-DeWitt who wrote about our intent earlier this month, to garner sufficient voices. We have now captured completed surveys from just over 330 people who stated that they owned an Apple Watch and were not satisfied with it. A final point to note, since we do not have a technical way to verify if someone has truly owned the Watch, we relied on basic data scrubbing to prevent contributions of a spammy nature.

First, we wanted to assess how quickly after wearing the Watch, would one decide to stop using it and the data is very telling. Slightly under half the respondents made up their mind rather quickly: within the first two weeks for 28% and within days for 17% of respondents. And it’s been reported frequently, that for many, it takes at least two weeks before the habit and value of wearing the watch becomes apparent.

In a drawer…

When it came to understanding what happened to their Apple Watch, we were very surprised to assess that a majority of rejectors had kept it “in a drawer”. Very few owners — 18% of the Apple Watch and 24% of the Apple Watch Sport owners had sold it and only 12% and 17% respectively had returned it to Apple. So while not overly satisfied with the product, we can still assess a reluctance to completely reject it.

Performance (lack of) is #1 culprit

Of the top reasons why an owner gave it up, besides the generic #1 “not enough value”, the key performance areas were most frequently cited with 80% blaming limited feature-set, 66% rating it as too slow and 59% unhappy with the battery life. Fifth of the top five reasons was a bit more insightful with 53% of the respondents reported being annoyed that the time is not always displayed and having to “tilt” to wake-up Apple Watch to see the time.

All other reasons captured significantly less “votes” with bottom ranked reasons encompassing design and form elements.

What should Apple do?

We finally asked the respondents to write-in their suggestions as to what would be the one thing that in their opinion Apple should address.

Here is a representative set of comments:

The user interface and get rid of that “crown” wheel, or improve it… and maybe stop calling it crown as it is cheesy and pretentious.
Slimmer design with a tougher case. Longer battery life.
Improve the battery, make it more affordable, decrease the size.
Thinner and more aesthetically pleasing, longer battery, better heart rate software, not requiring phone tethering.
There is probably not ONE thing. I think, Apple and other watch providers need to sort out what is the right concept…I used my Apple Watch when traveling because it helped me to find my way etc. Also the 2nd camera screen helped to shoot good photos. Use of smartwatches will probably be limited to special occasions, but not everyday life.
Make is faster, add more sensors, add more watch faces, and better battery life.
Would like to have the time show all the time not just on raising hand gestures…
Always-on watch face, thinner styling, more health sensors. Technology probably isn’t there yet.
Speed, waterproofing, activity tracking more in line with fit band watches, battery life.
Integrate it better with my iPhone. I want it to think for me- what response to the email? Where do I go next? What’s the best way to get there? Such potential. So untapped.

Some more insights…

We followed up with about a third of the respondents to continue probing on their dissatisfaction. Since only 70 of them responded, we are keeping the analysis short and mostly reporting the raw numbers to let you draw your own conclusions.

As many have noted previously Apple Watch core age group is the 35–55 age bracket. No significant differences on dissatisfaction are noted based on this criteria.

Similar to all prior Wristly research, there is a significant negative bias from people working in tech. Here we can report that 75% of “unsatisfied” owners group state they work in tech vs 40% for the regular Wristly panel. This high concentration of tech workers among dissatisfied Watch owners, is in our opinion another signal that the tech industry underestimates Apple Watch.

No significant differences from the main Wristly research on this point

Once again, we see the higher dissatisfaction levels from the tech industry resulting in the the most popular reason for buying the Apple Watch among dissatisfied users is to evaluate it from a technology standpoint.

Surprising to us is that 30% of dissatisfied owners still wear Apple Watch more or less regularly.

Dissatisfied owners mostly returned to using the timepiece they used previously.

And roughly half the dissatisfied owners who responded think they might still buy the next one!

Let’s finish the analysis with some additional select comments that bring the data to life:

These surveys don’t ask the right questions or even provide the right answers. Yes, I wear my Apple watch daily, why is that not an option for question 8? Just because I am extremely dissatisfied with my Apple watch doesn’t mean I am not going to wear it daily as a watch and a watch alone.
Continuous readout of time! I like to glance at my watch and know the time without raising my wrist or tapping it! 42mm round watch; wireless charging; less cluttered with useless apps.
Outside of the US, in Sweden to be specific, we get none of the most useful functions (Siri is useless, Apple Pay is not available, Apple maps are useless, and the complications currently are a joke).
I would like to see more granular controls around notifications.
The watch face has to be present at all times. No jostling it awake. It also needs to charge very quickly so you can actually sleep with it at night to record sleeping behaviors.

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