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How Apple has to teach people to love the watch

To get people to start wearing an Apple Watch, the company is going to have to present them with either a compelling feature or, more likely, a set of features that, when combined together, become compelling. Ariel Adams writing for A Blog to Watch:

I've said that compared to the Apple Watch, most other smartwatches (especially those with digital screens) feel like toys. I don't say that to insult other companies or because I love Apple, but I say it as a way of explaining the build and feel of the Apple Watch. Most of today's Google Android Wear-based devices look like facsimiles of a watch, but not something a serious watch lover would ever consider as "nice." The Apple Watch feels like a genuine modern manifestation of the watch, complete with quality materials and a very pleasant ergonomic and tactile experience. It is a watch product that would have naturally come about if the traditional watch industry continued to modernize and develop after the quartz watch became the status quo. After putting the traditional watch industry in a bad place, Apple has now come to the rescue of the watch truly bringing in to the 21st century, which is exactly what I said after my initial first-hand experience in my Apple Watch hands-on article.

The entire article is fascinating, since it's written by and for watch people on a watch site, not gadget people on a gadget site. And it sums up what Apple faces with the watch industry.

Apple has the dual role of having to convince people to buy their smartwatch as well as having to convince people to wear watches again. Apple has taken upon itself the large task of developing a nascent market and educating a large base of consumers. Perhaps no one is better equipped than Apple, but I think it is important to understand this when judging the short versus long-term success of the Apple Watch. My feeling is that the first year will be an important awareness and eduction-building time for Apple with the Apple Watch. That is because, in my opinion, most people will only develop a desire for one by having personal experience with it and seeing other people around them using it. Unlike other tech products that people have experience with or can understand in pictures and videos, the Apple Watch is part of a new category of technology products that consumers need to learn to love and want.

It's a long read, but a worthwhile one.

Rene Ritchie
Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

44 Comments
  • True that. I've never worn a watch--at least not in 30+ years, but I'm going to get an Apple Watch because of the features and how it will apparently enhance my work life. I say "apparently" because I really don't know if I can stand wearing a watch and/or if the features and functionality of the device will outweigh any lingering aversion to something on my wrist. We'll find out soon enough!
  • I'm still surprised by stories like this because everyone I know and deal with daily at work, customers, vendors, etc, everyone wears a watch... Ok like 95%. In fact, according to actual statistics I've looked up, the wristwatch industry ships a staggering 1.2 Billion (Billion with a B) wristwatches annually! Fact is, most of the worlds people do wear watches and I suspect the tech blog types are one of the minority groups with a lower participation rate. I personally started to wear one again a couple years ago after I became annoyed with having to pull phone from pocket and light screen just to do something so simple as check the time. And lots of people enjoy the fashion accessory aspect of it as well. But seriously, more people wear watches than don't.
  • The Apple Watch will sell well but you're crazy to believe that many people wear watches. Wearing watches is an age and wealth thing. And even among the older wealthy consumers it's not more than 60% saturation. The reason there are a billion watches sold a year is because most watch wearers buy more than one watch a year just like most women who wear jewelry have several earrings and necklaces they break out for different occasions.
    Try looking at middle class people younger than 40 and you will not see a watch on a single one. They never considered a watch, don't need one and couldn't affird one even if they wanted it. Apple's job is to speak to the iPhone toting, middle class to convince them Apple Watch adds real value.
  • Your middle class statement about no one under 40 wearing a watch is no more true than the other guy saying almost everyone wears one. Some people like watches, some people don't - no matter what age, income or other demographic criterea. Unless you can provide real world statistics based on study there's no reason to throw imaginary numbers at the conversation in attempt to further your point.
  • I'm in the same boat. I haven't worn a watch for about 30 years either, not because I hate them or anything, but because it was just one more thing, that I didn't actually need. Also, I'm not a person who wears jewelry. If you don't wear rings and pendants and bracelets/watches, then the only need for a watch is to tell time, and that need was superseded by computers, cell-phones and the fact that clocks are everywhere in the environment. I'm buying the Apple Watch though and if it works the way advertised, I will probably be a "watch person" thereafter. The Apple Watch seems like a binary proposition to me. If it works at all, it's something you will wear literally 24/7, if it doesn't, you won't wear it at all. Overall, I think the number of "watch wearers" is about to skyrocket.
  • I don't know I just feel like the Apple Watch has too much going on with its interface. Apple is known for simplicity, people always claim they want products that "just work". They should have that knob and selector, should have been more swipe and press based. I think it will be the interface and not that people haven't worn watches that hurts them. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • right now I have a Microsoft Band and I can't wait to get the watch, but what I really hate is that I don't see Apple even thinking about all of us potential customers that are beyond fed up with Microsoft at this point yet I see comments about going to try and get Android users
  • I guess I reveal my age a bit by admitting I have always worn a watch. I am intrigued by the Apple Watch and hope it is a hit, but like others I struggle to see the problem it fixes for me. For now I am content to watch from the sidelines and perhaps quickly join the second wave of adopters. I do wish Apple luck and hope they win me over. Sent from the iMore App
  • "For now I am content to watch from the sidelines" Also a sign of age... i.e. wisdom / patience... ;)
  • Says allot about a watch if people have to be taught or (bought) to enjoy. Not just the iWatch but other smart watches Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Excellent article. Just wish they were my own words. That's exactly the way I understand it. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm sorry, but to say most Android Wear watches wouldn't be considered "nice" by a "serious watch lover" seems awfully prejudiced against anything non-Apple with no facts to back up such a comment. Look at the Moto 360, LG G Watch R, Asus Zenwatch, and now the LG Urbane, and tell me those don't look as classy (or more) than the Apple Watch. I realize there is subjectivity involved, but to be so dismissive while placing the Apple Watch on a pedestal is simply ridiculous. There's some balance there in the middle that the author will never see at the base of his nose...
  • Maybe click/tap through and read the article, and then read Adams' credentials, and realize he's watch writer for a watch site, and then maybe — and I'm just spitballing here — open your mind to consider his perspective and the reasons for it? (He gives tons of "facts" to back it up, most of them related to manufacturing and watch culture — which are fascinating.)
  • [Edit 2: If you thought I was referring to you with the "nose" comment, I wasn't - I was referring to Adams.] Rene, I'm not one of the trolls that you have to deal with on a daily basis here, and really don't appreciate being treated like one. When I woke up and saw the email notification about your reply to my comment, I didn't notice it was you, the EiC of imore, and assumed it was some overly biased fanboy. I'm surprised at your sarcasm and animosity towards my comment, and honestly pretty turned off to interacting in the future. I DID take the time to read the article and DO understand his credentials - that's WHY I said what I said. I even double checked some of my knowledge on the manufacturing of the Moto 360 to make sure I wasn't coming from left field in my thought process BEFORE making that comment. Heck, my comment didn't even disagree with a majority of his points, but was simply meant to say he was being presumptuous about one. I wasn't even putting down the Apple Watch in the process. I'm pretty disappointed in your response, especially given how you're always touting constructive interaction. Edit: Let me also add I know it's difficult dealing with some of the comments you have to deal with here on a regular basis. Maybe you need a short vacation to get away from it all for awhile. I know I would if I was in your position...
  • Given your original comment, Rene's response seems entirely appropriate. (..."will never see at the base of his nose" is "constructive interaction"?!)
  • You know I wasn't talking about Rene, but rather the author of the linked article right? And the author of that article is definitely looking down his nose at other smart watches - some of them deservedly so, but others not so much. But he's simply lumping them all together.
  • Goodness... I got down-voted for a constructive response to Rene's heated/sarcastic response? I really should just quit interacting on these sites.
  • Nothing wrong with what you said, you're right. There are several smartwatches with great build quality that look far better than the apple watch. Shouldn't be a crime to admit that. The apple watch, while built with high dollar materials with certain editions, looks kind of odd. That might be because it reminds me of a puffy pebble steel, I don't know. The design is so lackluster that I can't see myself dropping hundreds of dollars on this every year or two, despite how intrigued I was by this before it was revealed. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • I sort of agree with you to a point. I think it a little presumptuous. I do think the other watches will not appeal to 'a watch' guy really. And the Apple watch may. But to just through that out as fact is a little much. It is really going to come down to apps? Back when iphone started, Apple flooded the market with thoughtfully made apps to instantly have appeal/use. It is really the whole ecosystem of Apple that truly differentiates itself nowf So at the beginning it was Apple making the apps. But for the watch, they really seem to be relying on the devs more so. So it will be intresting after the first wave of watch apps hit, and if there are any 'must have' apps. If the devs do not come through for Apple, it will be intresting on how Apple adapts.
  • I don't wear a watch and I differently don't need Apples watch when I still have to carry my iPhone. The watch is a joke and a waste of money.
  • The watch is purpose built to augment the iPhone user experience and is intended to enhance specific use cases. Why would you want for it to replace your phone. That's like saying I want to buy a bicycle so I can throw away my car. Sent from the iMore App
  • No it isn’t.
    There are things the watch should be autonomous with. GPS for one.
  • I always see GPS as a wanted feature. How many reason can you think of where it would be needed. I am just wondering. :-) Runners and .......
  • I agree...it always makes me wonder why people need the watch to work alone. You dont seem to see this comment about all the android wear devices. I know of only one that can fully work alone. I must be in a different world but I can only see one reason why having GPS in a watch is useful...runners.
  • Correction, the watch that works alone runs Tizen not Android Wear. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • I did not even think about that. THANKS SAX. Great catch.
  • I tend to agree here. I have not worn a watch for years. I am betting on the Apple watch to fill a space that would allow me to move to the 6Plus size phone and not have to constantly pull it out for simple tasks. As the larger phone will be cumbersome for quick glances where it would reside in my inside jacket pocket, the watch will be a tool and suitable addition. I also agree that too much tech/capability could inhibit this but I do understand the approach. What may be of importance to me or not needed may be the opposite to another person. As usual Apple is appealing to a wider diverse audiences and will pull it off with elegance and simplicity allowing me to disregard the unwanted and bring to the front the needed.
  • I will only consider the watch when Apple pay comes to the uk. Until that point I will stick with my iPhone for all activities! Sent from the iMore App
  • I don't think Apple has to do this. I think people are smart enough to realize what it can do and what it can offer you.
  • Since smart watches have been out for a little while I think many people will already know what they do. It is also a lot like when the first iPhone came out so it will take some time for more people to realize if this will be a product for them. Apple will start to find out what other uses the watch will have during this year as well. I am like many and have not worn a watch since I bought my first iPhone so it will be strange to wear one again. I cannot wait to get one and start to see all the things it will start to do over time.
  • I haven't worn a watch in years, because the crappy ones I've owned only lasted a couple of years. I will be buying an Apple Watch on the 10th. Sent from the iMore App
  • The Pebble watch is excellent and the price has gone way down. The most functional application for a Smart Watch is reminding you that you and your device are no longer together. I enjoy the hepatic feedback of the kickstarter model that occurs when you mistakenly leave your device behind. It buzzes your arm and the watch face colors invert when you separate from your device, and buzzes again when you return within range as the screen goes back to normal. The Pebble Steel looks beautiful but the Cowbell app that is supposed to do the same thing is lacking because when you go out of range there is a mild buzz and not strong feedback, alarm type vibration when you go out of range, and it does not come back on when you return within range. The notifications you ask for come on your screen. Of course telephone calls and SMS do too.
  • The Pebble only does notifications though, and only "one way." Is it really appropriate to call something like that a "smartwatch" at all?
  • Yes. It may not have the same bells and whistles as an Apple watch, or wear watch, but that's like comparing a Beemer to a Civic. Both do the same base function. One tosses in some frills for you. I actually quite like the Pebble. I don't need to respond to every buzz beep and flash my phone makes, but when I need to I do. As for the Apple watch and Wear devices, you all will be looking for moments to "stealthily" reply from your watches. I don't have that issue with a Pebble. And being able to track pizza orders is kewl too (note, I live off pizza and Ramen, don't hate) "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • I kind of agree. With the car example it would be like one can drive both forward and backwards and the other can only drive one direction. The same but yet very different. ;-)
  • The Pebble is a SmartWatch. Therefore, it is appropriate to call it that. Posted via the Android iMore App!
  • I would rather buy a Tissot for $349 whose battery would last for couple of years!! I was very much inclined towards  watch in the beginning but the price has put me off. It would be funny to navigate through maps on the wrist or calling someone through a watch! And yes, those gimmicky sketches which you can send.. dam...!! Sent from the iMore App
  • Here's the best part m8. You can do that. It is your money you see. Despite the Apple Kool-aid people love to talk about no one makes you drink it but yourself. "I'm da Blur boys!" - Me with 1200 ping. Fiber in Nashville? Save me based Google.
  • Teach people to love but really mean buy the way over priced watch. If anyone needs to be taught to like a product then they don't want it And most likely will not buy it. I think this watch is so over priced it's ridiculous. Apple will convince the gullible customer that this watch is worth the big bucks. It's not, the Apple Watch does more than the Pebble but not more than Android Ware. There are so many new watches being built and pushing the envelope. Now is not the time to spend way too much for the Apple Watch when that over priced hardware will be obsolete in 6 months.
  • Very good article: "Fashion is what gets people to wear something, and technology is what gets people to use something." It takes the right writer to write about this from both of those perspectives. Sent from the iMore App
  • Based on the number of "I don't wear a watch" comments, there are simply a lot of people that read and comment on iMore that are not "watch people". That, in and of itself is not a problem, and I do not consider myself a watch person, but several folks commenting on here are doing the fanboi thing: "You like/do something that I don't, which makes you dumb." Fashion matters to some people and not others in the same way that details of programming in ObjectiveC matters to some people and not others. At the same time, some folks prefer Ford over Chevy or Audi over Mercedes or Toyota over Honda. Debating Apple Watch vs. Moto360 only matters to people that acknowledge that smartwatches have some value, and comparing the value of a $40000 Patek Philippe to a $17000 Apple Watch Edition only matters to people that see some value in both.
  • I'm staying behind the wave. Lots of apps, different watch faces (including Rolex, and other high end watch makers when I need to 'feel like $10G's or better') makes me function with the Pebble Steel with days of battery life (I charge it daily any way and it goes 'green' in less than 5 minutes), I will watch those in line at Apple's Flagship store cough up the usual millions on launch day. I left my phone behind on my desk today and got a wrist buzz to double back for it. When my iPhone rings I look at the watch to see who's calling. The weather channel watch face has the date time and weather. Email notifications, SMS notifications, AP mobile notifications, Calendar notifications, and any other notification that is selected on my iPhone give me the who what where and how I need to highly function in a technological society. No, I don't work for Pebble, and I bought mine used in excellent condition on eBay. Pebble is overdosing on the price for their next version of smart watch.
  • I wear a watch but because I have a fairly active lifestyle and am a dad, I'm reluctant to spend more than $50 on any watch. I doubt Apple will ever cater to the low end of the watch market where I reside but I'm still cheering them on. Their R&D along with that of competitors will trickle its way down to help create a discount smartwatch market. We'll probably see $75 smartphones packaged with $75 smartwatches packaged together in the prepaid phonecard racks within 3 years though they'll be Android and/or Lumia-Band combinations.
  • I might change my mind and splurge on an Apple Watch if a future release comes with a circlular face instead of rounded square and I can use it Dick Tracy-style, ie. with Facetime, Skype and/or Hangouts.