Apple Watch Gets Mixed Reactions From IT Analysts

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-03-10 Print this article Print
Apple Watch, smartwatches, wearables

Rob Enderle, principal analyst with Enderle Group, said that the device still has a lot to prove in terms of its acceptance and true fit in the consumer marketplace. In fact, he said, by adding some smartphone functions to a wristwatch, such as the ability to make a phone call, it may actually be less useful for some users.

"In a noisy room, you are going to be screaming at the watch to be heard and trying to hold it up to your ear on your wrist," said Enderle. "It's just much more convenient to hold a phone up to your ear, plus you look less stupid than if you are holding your watch up to your ear on your wrist. If you're going to create an iconic watch that's a status symbol, you don't want to make people look stupid."

If the first buyers of the Apple Watch feel stupid using the devices, then a second wave of buyers will not happen, said Enderle. "Putting the speaker and the microphone into the watch is kind of like [the old, futuristic detective comic book character] Dick Tracy, but we're not in a Dick Tracy mode anymore."

Worse, because of the watch's small face, as soon as people try to use it in airports to go through ticket scanners at gates, they will likely cause delays because they'll take multiple scans to be properly read, said Enderle. "We're not used to wearing watches anymore," he said. "It's that little stuff. There are a lot of opportunities to look stupid with them."

Some of these issues will likely be worked through as smartwatches mature, said Enderle, but Apple's decision to only allow their smartwatches to work with iOS and not with Android could hurt the company in the long run because that will hinder wider adoption. "It does lower their overall total available market because people with Android won't be able to use it."

One other problem, he said, is that Apple could find that its pricey $10,000 to $17,000 Edition models have status symbol price tags but certainly won't have the longevity of a traditional fine timepiece because of their electronics-based roots. "Unlike a Rolex that you buy and that lasts for your whole life, and gets passed on to your children, this is a piece of electronics," said Enderle. "It won't have that lifespan. You're paying $10,000 for something that basically has a 12-month use cycle. That's a lot of money for a piece of status. It's not really like jewelry."

Angela McIntyre, a wearables analyst with Gartner, told eWEEK that with more than 300 million customers worldwide for iPhones in the last few years, Apple certainly won't have trouble selling its new smartwatches, which must be used in conjunction with iPhones.

"The people who buy Apple products have a good cross-over with people who like to buy luxury items, and in particular, fancy watches," said McIntyre. "That’s a lot of people who possibly fit into this category of people who would be willing to buy a luxury watch and would be willing to buy an Apple Watch."

Traditional luxury watchmakers have not been taking the pending release of the Apple Watch lightly, and have been partnering with electronics companies to offer their own smartwatches, she said. "We'll see more of that. [The Apple Watch] will fuel the smartwatch market this year."



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