As the debate continues over whether the Apple Watch is a success or a failure in terms of expectations, a couple of things have become clear:
the first is that despite criticism that it leaves much to be desired in terms of usability, battery life, and other aspects, users seem very pleased with it. The second thing is that, as has been expected for a couple of months, the sales in the traditional watch market have fallen sharply, a fact that some of those affected now admit.
We’re talking here about an 11 percent fall off in economic terms, and 14 percent in units sold, the biggest drop since 2008, and that affects all prices (the biggest fall is in the $100 to $150 range), and that despite finding ourselves still at the beginning of the time series, it could point to a difficult future for the category.
That said, this could all be about timing: the launch came when many people who were thinking about buying a watch chose an Apple Watch at a time when it was at the height of its popularity, although as happens with all launches, it will be difficult to sustain initial sales. In any even, despite the lack of transparency in providing figures, we are surely talking about sales of more than two million Apple Watches in the US market alone in the month of June, compared to the more than 900,000 that the traditional watch industry managed in the same period and in the same market.
Are we witnessing a technology substitution process? That’s not such an easy question to answer: on the one hand, smartwatches are highly fashionable, and are being worn in the same way that more upmarket traditional timepieces have: “I’m not wearing this to tell the time, but to show how wealthy and stylish I am.” Obsolescence also seems to be a factor: just about any of the 10 watches that supposedly changed the industry can still be worn. Or you can spend a minimum of $350 and a maximum of $17,000 on a watch that your children are never going to wear, given the rapid pace of technological change.