There should be little doubt that Apple will sell many tens of millions of the Watch. The company has half a billion iPhone customers, and a Watch is a convenient, useful, and fashionable extension of the iPhone. Unlike the original iPhone, though, Apple Watch is not a simple device. That explains the great pains Apple is going through to teach customers what the Watch can do.
Last night I saw three 60-second Apple Watch TV commercials. The day before I viewed a number of Watch videos online. Whereas the iPhone and iPad were almost self explanatory devices, Apple Watch is not, and requires educating the masses of iPhone customers.
When was the last time you saw Apple devote 60-seconds to a TV commercial? What Apple product has benefited from so many different online videos which explain the product’s details (with more to come), and how to use the new controls?
Apple Watch might be a hard sell, somewhat akin to the controls which grace the steering wheel in your car. Are not many of those controls also on the dashboard control panels? Yes. But the steering wheel makes them convenient to use without removing your hands from the steering wheel, and without taking your eyes off the road. Apple Watch works much the same way. Alerts, alarms, notifications, communications, and other useful information– now the domain of our iPhones– will be more convenient to use on Watch. Once we learn how, and that will require a new user education process.
Apple already provides product handholding for newcomers to the Mac, iPhone, and iPad, so the company is perfectly equipped with retail stores and associates to provide the proper training to Watch customers. They’ll need it. Controls are different than Apple’s flagship products. Functions are different, too, and will require many users to elevate their learning game, and require Apple to elevate how a product is sold.
Will a customer receive the same sort of handholding for a Samsung Gear or Pebble or whatever wearable device hits the shelves at Best Buy?
I can predict with comfort that early adopters will love what Apple Watch does today, but what it will do next year and the year after is obvious, too– follow the migration path of improvements made to iPhone and iPad since their product launches years ago. I can predict with comfort that Watch will not sell as well as an iPhone. It cannot. iPhone has more apps with more capability and that is not likely to change ever. Screen real estate is important. But so is convenience and unobtrusive communication. Watch does what iPhone cannot. Be visually fashionable yet mostly unobtrusive while delivering a level of convenience that iPhone cannot.
Just remember that Watch is not a simple device and the interface and capabilities require plenty of education and handholding for the great unwashed masses of iPhone humanity.