Apple Watch: Major Hit or Epic Failure?

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #119


There is no company in the world that inspires more prognostication than Apple. And the Apple Watch, being Apple's first actual "new" product since the iPad in 2010 (or the iPhone in 2007 if you consider the iPad a sub-species of the iPhone), has already generated more sales estimates and predictions of its success or failure than usual. 

It's been nearly two weeks since online sales began, with deliveries starting tomorrow (Friday, April 24). And, of course, Apple has kept mum on Apple Watch sales thus far. My point is that nobody other than a handful of Apple execs really know how many Apple Watches have been ordered. And, as usual, that hasn't stopped thousands of magazines, web sites, bloggers, podcasters, and newspaper columnists from predicting the number of watches ordered to date and/or proclaiming the Apple Watch a success or a failure based on such predictions.

In this case, depending upon which prognosticator you choose to believe, Apple has taken orders for somewhere between 1 and 3 million Apple Watches and that's only in the United States (though it also went on sale in a handful of other countries on April 10). To put that into perspective, the Huffington Post says that it took 74 days for Apple to sell its first million iPhones, and 28 days to sell its first million iPads.

So the Apple Watch is gonna be a huge success, right? 

I say, "not so fast..." 

Think back to the days when vinyl albums ruled the music world and albums that shipped gold or platinum — with preorders in excess of 500,000 or 1,000,000 units respectively — were considered the pinnacle of musical success. It was only years later that I learned that many albums that had shipped platinum also "returned platinum," which meant that more unsold copies were returned to the record company for credit than were actually sold. So shipping platinum didn't mean an album was a hit; it just meant the record company pressed and shipped a lot of units. 

What tickles me about the Apple Watch predictions is that "normal" people couldn't even touch or try on an Apple Watch until April 10, (with normal being defined as, "not working for Apple or the handful of media outlets Apple graced with pre-release Apple Watches last week"). So all of these predictions have been made without the benefit of feedback from a single user who paid for a watch. And, in the end, aren't the users the ones who determine the ultimate success or failure of any product? 

The first watches will arrive in the hands of users tomorrow. Will it win raves or will its arrival be sullied by yet another scandal like AntennaGate (iPhone 4 antenna issues) or BendGhazi (iPhone 6 Plus bending under extreme pressure).

That being said, you should note that hindsight is 20/20 and in the long run, neither AntennaGate nor BendGhazi affected iPhone sales much (if at all). 

So excuse me for not predicting the success or failure of the Apple Watch just yet. I have a feeling it's gonna be a huge hit, but the only prediction I'm willing to go on the record with today is this: 

A handful of users will complain about something; the media will give it a clever nickname like AntennaGate or BendGhazi; the something they're complaining about will, ultimately, turn out to be nothing. 

And that's all he wrote…