There’s no shortage of pundits these days claiming that Apple Watch is a flop. That it’s not doing as good as it should be doing because (insert excuse here).
As I continue to express my distain for people who are so quick to dismiss a new category, it occurred to me that pretty much every great Apple product over the past 15 years has required 2-3 iterations before it became something that people really wanted.
A few days ago, I linked to a piece from Mike Wehner showing how Apple’s most successful products since the beginning of the century all started out slow only to see massive adoption. What I also mentioned was that in pretty much each scenario it took roughly 3 years before that happened.
Yes, that’s right. Three of Apple’s four top products being sold today took roughly 3 years before people were willing to consider it worth buying.
The iPod, which debuted in late 2001, didn’t see mass adoption until late 2005 – early 2006. As I mentioned before, it was the Nano which changed things. A device so tiny that it could fit into the small pocket of your jeans. That, and the price point which was much less than the iPod Classic at the time.
The iPhone had a similar timeline. When it debuted in 2007, it was $600 and required that you were on AT&T. Its first year sales were less then 10 million units. Its second year sales were higher, but it truly wasn’t until late 2010 when the iPhone begun to seriously take off. The design and innovations that went into the iPhone 4 truly took the phone to the next level. You may be thinking “But I bought an iPhone from the start!” Sure, maybe you did (you’re a tech nerd), but regular folks didn’t buy into it for several years. Trust me, I worked for Apple during that time.
In 2008, just one year after the debut of the iPhone, Steve Jobs stood on stage and famously took out what would be called the MacBook Air from a manilla envelope. I also worked for Apple during that time, and I can tell you that very few people bought it. It was incredibly slow and expensive. You had to pay a minimum of $1800 for a computer that had an 80GB iPod hard drive and 2GB of RAM. I tinkered with this computer a lot, and while it was incredibly beautiful, there was simply no reason to buy it at the time. You compromised way too much for the size in my opinion.
Of course, the Air went on to become the most popular Macbook ever. But it did’t happen until at least 2010, arguably 2011. It took some advancements in chipsets from Intel and some refinements from Apple before it became the laptop to buy. That being said, between 2008 and 2011, there was no shortage of pundits complaining and mocking the laptop for not having a CD-ROM and for only have one or two USB ports. Funny, history is repeating itself today with the new ultra-thin new Macbook. Who wants to bet on what happens next?
I know what you’re probably thinking at this point. Why didn’t the iPad go through this? Well, it did, only it wasn’t 3 years. It was more like 1 year. Why? Well, because we all understood the iPad because it was the big brother to the iPhone and iPod Touch. There was nothing to learn. It also wasn’t locked down by any one carrier. You could just buy it off the shelf and use it on any wi-fi network. These two reasons are why I think the iPad got off to a faster start. Still, it didn’t go without mockery. Remember Letterman?
The Apple Watch is experiencing its early days, but I think it’s going to go through a timeline similar to the iPod, the iPhone, and the MacBook Air. This is a whole new frontier for both Apple and the consumer. This is not just technology. This is technology you wear. And because this is all so new to us, it’s simply going to take time for us to fully grasp and accept it.
But that’s not the only reason why. Another reason, and I think the bigger reason, will be because in the years to come innovations will happen that will make the Watch far more compelling. The screen, the battery, the speed, the applications, and the sensors will all become noticeably better. Not only that, but the Watch will likely do things we haven’t thought of yet. It’s hard to say what that is today, but it’s bound to happen.
So, for those of you who want to bash the Apple Watch as if today’s product is what the product is and will forever be, I encourage you to look at the history of Apple products. This is nothing new. In fact, this is exactly how Apple rolls.