The Apple Watch Money Grab

February 20, 2015

The Apple Watch is Apple’s purest (first?) money grab to date. If you step back and really think it through, there is no other viable conclusion. At least not for THIS version of the watch. Maybe in the future there will be a version that does amazing things, but this version is a money grab and little more.

Let’s first look at the devices usefulness. The device itself has no logic ability. It sounds like eventually you’ll be able to do programming logic on the watch, but at least in phase 1 no logic. So it’s just an external monitor for your iPhone.

How many people need to get notifications, but can’t pull out their phone when they to? Is being on your phone a social no no these days? I think not. Right now, just look up from your phone and you’ll see everyone else on their phone.

So now we’re down to some group of people who too are busy in meetings and have their phone with them (because you must) but don’t want to pull it out. That’s obviously not a core market for Apple.

Is the Apple Watch revolutionary? No way, not even close. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad were all clearly revolutionary products. Not that the categories were invented by Apple, but they were perfected by them.

The Apple Watch is not a huge evolutionary jump. It’s just like every Android watch out there that shows notifications and not much more.

It is prettier of course, though to my eye at least not the huge jump there either that iPhone/iPod/iPad were.

It has a few health functions. OK, but the ones it has are not that great and second most people don’t care about any of that. Maybe they’re trying to change that, but at Apple’s scale health nuts are not a core market. Also, what super health nut wants to carry and iPhone AND an iWatch while they’re running, lifting, playing soccer, etc. The watch doesn’t even have it’s own GPS!!

So what is the purpose of the Apple Watch?

First, I do think there’s a part of this which is to finance the future. Yes, this watch sucks but over the coming years electronics will get smaller, etc etc. So the watch 5 years from now will have a lot more stand alone capabilities and be potentially more impressive (though lack of screen size will always be very limiting without some new UI breakthrough).

Selling it now lets it finance itself. Though, this seems a very un-Apple like thing to do, it potentially makes some sense.

The main purpose of the watch though is pretty clear. It’s simply a money grab. Apple has a huge install base, an extremely loyal one. Apple focuses on the top of the market, so a good chunk of the install base has significant disposable income.

Apple already sold them a super computer for their desk, their pocket and the couch. There’s not a lot of room left there. So, the move to fashion. They’re simply going to use their huge popularity to make this watch fashionable and sell it based on that. A mostly useless chunk of metal that is a status symbol and little more.

There’s even a few oddities on the fashion front given some recent rumors that most of the bands won’t be available as add-on’s. That you’ll get once nice band with the watch and can only add-on a plastic one for when you work out (with your $20,000 rose gold watch?). To me, the band was the most interesting aspect of the entire watch.

The display will be crap in a year or maybe two, but the bands. Great bands that are easily switchable. That’s something I could perhaps be tempted to invest in while swapping out the watch body each year. It’s all so very confusing.

All this is not to say that I don’t think it will work for them. They do have a huge market, they do have many middle class to very rich folks looking to throw money at anything Apple. If even a few percent of their customers buy one it will add billions in revenue.

It’s just odd that Apple is releasing a product which is so much about them and so little about us. Nearly all Apple products are fashion symbols these days, but all are useful tools above all else. The form followed the function. With the Watch it feels like there is only the form and Apple desperately seeking a function for it.

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