I love Apple.
No – I really love Apple.
My love affair with Macintosh is an enduring tale.
It all began in 1999 with a love-at-first-sight encounter with my family’s turquoise Mac desktop, which seduced me with its generous curves, single megabyte of memory and the dulcet tones of its interior fan, whirring away like a pterodactyl being eviscerated by a Boeing 747.
In between then and now, I’ve had flirtations with several iPods and a Macbook – and even a fleeting career in the Apple Store itself – which quickly turned south when I struggled with the idea of selling computers worth more than an exotic wildcat collection to pensioners. Nonetheless, I still find myself enamoured with the world’s most successful retail brand.
… Which is why it pains me to say that I really, really, really don’t love the Apple Watch (are we calling it that? iWatch does sound a bit voyeuristic, doesn’t it?). And it seems that I’m not alone, with data showing that sales of the Apple Watch are down ninety per cent after just two months on the market. While that figure still means that Apple has crushed dedicated smartwatch companies like Pebble, it also means that it’s failed to outsell Fitbit – and by extension, failed to disrupt the marketplace. As a point of comparison, that’s the equivalent of Apple announcing after only eight weeks on the market, the original iPod had failed to outsell Microsoft’s Zune. If you don’t remember what a Zune is, there’s a very good reason for that – and it also makes a damning point about just how much of an abysmal failure the Apple Watch is. And as a consumer and self-professed Apple fanboy, the figures don’t surprise me in the least.
On paper, the Apple Watch looks like an investor’s mecca as the brand’s first new product in half a decade, with fantastic technical specs and a sleek design to match. But in reality, this has proven not to be the case.
Early reviews of the product are plagued with complaints that it takes up to three days just to learn how to use the product – a far cry from the ethos of founder, Steve Jobs, to make every product intuitive to use for everybody. On top of that, the watch doesn’t have many useful apps at the moment and only lasts a day off charge, leading to frequent criticism that, at best, it’s an $800 device that saves you a second that might’ve been spent withdrawing your phone from your pocket. If anything, I frequently scold myself for glancing too often at my phone – my natural inclination isn’t to fill those gaps of time with another screen.
And if I might meander into the non-technological for a moment: it’s just not that pretty to look at. While Apple might have tried to forcibly handcuff its latest incarnation onto the wrists of fashion-hungry people worldwide with lavish 12-page spreads in Vogue and selective celebrity endorsement, if I know anything about branding, it’s that you can’t tell consumers what to want (I’m looking at you, copywriter of ‘It’s a Mitzi!’). If my cursory glance of the models available on the Apple Watch website is anything to go by, my options are a cheap-looking, plastic band that comes in delightful shades of Shrek Green, Raw Salmon, and “I am definitely going to spill wine on this and wreck it forever” White. Alternatively, if you’re a Middle Eastern oil baron or literally Gina Rinehart, you could also opt for the $17,000 model.
While I’m sure the masterful team behind the Apple Watch have worked tirelessly to perfect every detail of it over the years, it appears that, ironically, this exact reason would also be the product’s downfall. Apple’s obsession with detail has resulted in a product that has breathtaking technical specs and an acceptable design, but misses the mark of actually serving a purpose. And by limiting its usage to 24 hours at a time, users have no reason to feel the watch is an extension of their personality when it spends more time on charge than on their wrist.
Without further joining the tech world’s collective beat up of the Apple Watch, no amount of analysing its finer details will reveal the simple truth about the failure of the Apple Watch:
It just isn’t very good.
For the time being, you’ll find me reminiscing about the glory days of playing on my turquoise Apple cinderblock, without an Apple Watch in sight.
Jack Cornwell is a Research Assistant at BCM