The Apple Watch becomes available for preorder tomorrow, and reviews of the smartwatch are everywhere. But will consumers really buy it? One thing is certainly clear from most of the reviews of the Apple Watch. It’s a fancy gadget you don’t really need.
Surveys also suggest that consumers don’t care much about it and that very few intend to buy one.
What’s to like about the Apple Watch
Of course the lack of consumer interest hasn’t kept the tech community from jamming the web full of reviews of the device. Many reviewers are billing the Apple Watch as the best smartwatch that’s currently on the market. Bloomberg’s Joshua Topolsky was one of them. He admitted that the Apple Watch “is not life-changing” but also called it “excellent,” predicting that Apple is going to sell “millions” of units. He also thinks many “will love and obsess” over the smartwatch.
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In a post for The Wall Street Journal, Geoffrey Fowler said the Apple Watch makes “smartwatches finally make sense.” He said the watch provides greater efficiency, not only because the display is convenient but also because it measures the wearer’s heart rate and provides a way to pay for things easily and quickly.”
Writing on Yahoo Tech, David Pogue called the Apple Watch “light-years better than any of the feeble, clunky efforts that have come before it.” Lance Ulanoff of Mashable wrote that the smartwatch “whispers craftsmanship.”
Overall, it seems as if most of the praise the Apple Watch has garnered is rather unsubstantial, particularly when compared to the specific complaints lodged by reviewers. Other than some remarks about the fashion aspect of the watch, most of the positive comments were rather generic in nature.
What’s not to like
Unsurprisingly, the smartwatch’s battery life is certainly lacking, with several reviewers, like The Wall Street Journal‘s Joanna Stern questioning why the Apple Watch can’t “make it past 10 p.m.” on days when she exercises. On the other hand, others said the battery life isn’t as bad as they expected.
Others warned that the learning curve associated with the Apple Watch is quite steep. Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times said it took four days to truly start appreciating what it can do and see it as “more than just another screen.” The overall consensus was still positive, however, as the reviewer enjoyed receiving notifications on the wrist, saying it felt like a “natural extension” of the body.
Fowler seemed to find the constant stream of notifications through the Apple Watch to be somewhat annoying, saying, “There’s a fine line between being in the know and having your wrist jiggle all day.” He also referenced the learning curve, although indirectly, He said it’s “tedious” and a “chore” to set up the Apple Watch so that you don’t receive notifications for every little thing. It takes time to set certain contacts as VIP and set only some apps to deliver notifications.
John Gruber of Daring Fireball thinks checking the time on the smartwatch is rather annoying because it takes a moment for the display to turn on after the wrist is raised.
Apple also took some jabs for the high price of its smartwatch.
Surveys suggest demand for the Apple Watch is teeny-tiny
So are consumers excited enough about the Apple Watch to gobble it up hungrily? Not so much, it would seem. Aside from the lack of lines of people waiting to try the Apple Watch as soon as they are allowed to do so at the Apple Stores, multiple surveys also suggest interest in the smartwatch is lacking.
One survey comes from the folks at Wallet Hero, who surveyed 500 people who subscribe to their email newsletter. They found that a mere eight people, amounting to 1.6%, said they’ll buy the Apple Watch, compared to 492 or 94.8% who said they won’t.
Apple Watch interest fizzles
That survey covered a rather small sample size, but the story is similar in a larger research study conducted by Argus Insights. One thing that’s particularly interesting is how the study indicates that interest in the Apple Watch has fizzled. It would seem as if people are just tired of hearing about it, and who can blame them?
According to Argus, interest in the Apple Watch piqued in September and now is comparatively low. Check out these two graphs (All charts and graphs in this article are courtesy Argus Insights.):
In fact, the Apple Watch may be boosting interest in other smartwatches, which is another bad sign for Apple’s first wearable.
Based on their analysis of the millions of social conversations, researchers at Argus say it’s unlikely the Apple Watch will do all that well, saying the smartwatch will be “successful but not beyond your wildest dreams.” Further, they say other smartwatch manufacturers have taken advantage of the lull between the unveiling and the launch of the Apple Watch, probably grabbing “many of the wrists” Apple has been hoping for.
They also note that because the watch only works with new iPhones, Android users won’t be buying one anytime soon. When looking at the adoption of the iPod, which required a Mac to use at first, the Argus team pointed out that the “iPhone faithful” will be pleased with it, but it will not move others from other ecosystems over to iOS.