Apple Inc. Downgraded Due To Bad Apple Watch Reviews

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The Apple Watch became available for preorder today, and already the initial supply is sold out. For much of this week, websites have been publishing reviews of the smartwatch, and one firm has picked up on the negative tone of most of those reviews. As a result, the firm’s analysts have downgraded Apple stock.

Apple downgraded by Raymond James

This is the second time in a week that Apple has gotten a downgrade from a major firm. Societe General analysts downgraded the company’s stock earlier this week, resulting in a drag on shares. This time it’s Raymond James analyst Tavis McCourt, how downgraded Apple from Outperform to Market Perform. He doesn’t think the Apple Watch will do as well as most analysts are expecting it will.

On the positive side, the Raymond James analyst does iPhone sales will do well this year. He also noted, however, that Apple’s valuation is about in line with that of its peers, so he believes the stock will remain range-bound for the time being.

What’s to say about the Apple Watch?

While the overall tone of most of the Apple Watch reviews I’ve read is positive, reading between the lines is particularly interesting. While there are plenty of adjectives to the effect of “wow” or “this is the greatest smartwatch on the market” and the like, the positive parts of the reviews are pretty generic. There isn’t a lot of in-depth description of exactly what supposedly makes the smartwatch so great.

On the other hand, reviewers are much more specific about what they don’t like about the Apple Watch. Most of the complaints were about the paltry battery life, the lofty price tag and the learning curve.

How many Apple Watches will be sold?

So just how well is the Apple Watch selling? Just because it sold out quickly, it doesn’t mean the device is selling well. It depends entirely on how well the initial supply was. McCourt’s concern was that the bad reviews of the Apple Watch might worry investors about whether Apple can keep launching successful products.

Well-known Apple bull Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray thinks the early sellout means the device is doing very well on its first day. From anecdotal evidence, he estimates that the Apple Watches sold out in the first 10 to 30 minutes. Munster is of the opinion that the Apple Watch is very supply constrained.

Trying out the Apple Watch is disappointing

Those who are curious about the Apple Watch can now head to an Apple Store to try it out. It seems as if relatively few people are taking advantage of this, but it sounds like demoing it may be a waste of time anyway. Alex Fitzpatrick of Time was one of the few who went down to his local Apple Store to try out the Apple Watch. He was disappointed with the experience, although he ended up preordering one.

Fitzpatrick went to the flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York City. He noted the lack of a line and “a certain level of excitement to be sure, but it wasn’t nuts,” as we have come to expect of Apple Stores on launch days for new products. Granted, the Apple Watch can’t be purchased today, but it can be preordered and demoed at the stores.

He tried out the least expensive Sport model and the mid-level model that features the leather loop band. He said the leather bands look better in person than they do in the photos, but he still opted for the Sport model.

Fitzpatrick was a little put off at first because an Apple employee put the watch on his arm (sounds more like a shoe fitting to me) rather than letting him put it on. But the biggest disappointment for him was demoing the apps on the watch.

Not so hands-on with the Apple Watch

He said all the Apple Watches he tried on were “running a non-interactive demo loop.” This did not actually low him to try out any of the great apps the device supposedly runs. In other words, forget about getting some “hands-on” time with the Apple Watch. He noted that people who were sitting on the fence in terms of making a decision could probably be more convinced to buy one if they could try out all those great apps, but alas, this was not the case.

Fitzpatrick noted that there were some kiosks showing off “more fully-featured Apple Watches,” but since they’re just kiosks, potential buyers can’t wear the watch while they play with it. Overall, he said the demo experience at his Apple Store was a big disappointment. But Apple still managed to get him to order one even with the disappointing experience.

It certainly seems as if a trend here is that consumers don’t care what using a device is like as long as it has the Apple brand name on it. This may be why people didn’t line up to go try it out but the watches sold out quickly on line. We will just have to wait until Monday to see if Apple CEO Tim Cook has an official statement about how many watchers were preordered over the weekend.

As of this writing, shares of Apple were up 0.23% to $126.85 per share.

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