Apple Watch Is Outperforming iPhone 1.0 — So, Why Does It Feel Like A Bust?

Since the Apple Watch’s debut a year ago, the headlines about its success have been a bit all over the map. Some tout it as a huge hit, others as a big flop.

It has officially been a year since the Apple Watch entered consumers’ collective lives, and according to The Wall Street Journal, the numbers are “solid.” Of course, given Apple’s position on not disclosing sales, it means any pronouncement is based on an estimate, but the estimates are reasonably favorable. Analysts think Apple sold about 12 million watches at an average price of $500 a whack — meaning its sales trail but its revenue triples that of Fitbit. Apple represented about 61 percent of global smartwatch sales last year, according to IDC.

The first iPhone, on the other hand, sold about 6 million units during its first year on the market.

Fred Wilson, cofounder of venture capital firm Union Square Ventures, is unimpressed with the figures, however, and has called the watch a “flop.” Of course, Wilson is a Fitbit investor, who has been predicting a flop for the Apple Watch since before it launched.

The watch has struggled to find a defining purpose that justifies its high sticker price. Though praised for its design, the watch needs to be synced to a phone, is slow in order to preserve battery life and has limited functionality that can easily be replicated by a phone or a device that costs far less than $500 — or even the $300 or so one can pay for a Sport model.

“Apple needs to make it an indispensable thing,” said Forrester Research Analyst J.P. Gownder.

However, faith remains that that “indispensable thing” or function for the watch is coming, likening the watch’s evolution to the phone’s — limited at first but also a glimpse of the coming possibility of the form.

Will consumers like smartwatches as much as they liked smartphones though? That remains to be proven.


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