Tech and fashion enthusiasts will help drive Apple Watch awareness, but the mainstream will determine its success.
How regular iPhone users approach the Apple Watch — how quickly they adopt it, how important it becomes to them for daily use, and what they get out of it — will not only be fascinating to see, but will be one of the best measures of how well it's really doing in the market. Jim Dalrymple makes that very point on The Loop:
There will be growing pains with Apple Watch, as there are with any new technology. I don't expect the watch to be flawless—no product ever is, but it's up to Apple to make sure the value proposition is there for normal, everyday users.
From what I've seen so far of the Apple Watch and iPhone combination, Apple, with help from its developers can do it.
The more people you see wearing Apple Watch one, three, six months after purchasing the device, the more successful it will be. That is a measure of success that will take time, but it's very important.
Anecdotally, neither my mother nor my sister had much interest in the iPhone or iPad at launch. My sister eventually took one of my older iPhones and my mom bought herself an iPhone 5c because it looked like pop art to her. Likewise, both waited for the iPad 2 before jumping onto the tablet. (They remain enormous iPad users, my mother with an Air and my sister with a Mini 2).
Both my sister and my mother want Apple Watches now. They have no intention of waiting. They have specific problems they think the Apple Watch can solve, and they want them solved as soon as possible. Waiting for a future generation, for them, is living with those problems for a year or years more than they need to.
Jim is absolutely right about the metric for Apple Watch success, and for which part of the customer base it'll be most important.