The fate of the Apple Watch — be it retail success or Apple’s first post-Steve Jobs blunder — is still being determined.
Apple design guru Marc Newson recently revealed what he thinks about the future of the smartwatch in a recent interview in Australia’s Financial Review — and the comments may be more telling than any we heard from an Apple exec in recent months.
“As far as I’m aware, it’s been enormously successful however you gauge it. The point is, it’s the beginning of something,” Newson told the paper. ” I think people, consumers or analysts, whoever, are so impatient. Everyone wants immediate, instant recognition, instant understanding.”
Newson’s comments reveal frustration over speculation about the Apple Watch’s lack of iPhone-like success. The company’s smartphone, released in 2007, also had its share of doubters initially. But the device didn’t take long to capture the imagination of consumers.
“Look at the iPhone: it was a game-changing thing,” said Newson. “And I believe that this product — for many, many reasons people are not aware of because they haven’t thought ahead or they just don’t know — will become a similarly game-changing thing. In five years’ time I have absolutely no doubt this will be right up there.”
That last line is the kicker: five years? Sure, Newson isn’t necessarily saying that it will take that long for the Apple Watch to catch on, but the mention of such a long span of time possibly passing before the device hits will only add to the worries of some who already view the device as a disappointment among consumers.
In a separate interview on CNBC, Eric Migicovsky, the CEO of Pebble, an Apple Watch competitor, framed the Apple Watch as a luxury device rather than a mainstream consumer item.
“We’ve actually seen no material impact from Apple entering the space on our sales,” said Migicovsky. “In fact we’re selling two (times) the amount this year than we were last year … [Apple is] very focused on being the Rolex or the (Tag Heuer) of smartwatches … we are trying to be the Swatch of smartwatches.”
That could explain the relative scarcity of Apple Watches on the wrists of iPhone fans. It could also be that the category of wearables is just too new to ask consumers to pay a premium at this point.
Along those lines, Apple recently made the surprising decision to offer a discount on certain models of the Apple Watch — as well as offering the device in the historically unfashionable confines of Target.
Will these budget-friendly measures help boost the short-term popularity of the Apple Watch? That remains to be seen. But what is clear is that consumer technology moves at a faster pace than almost any other space.
Apple is unlikely to be content to wait five years for the Apple Watch to take off.
In the meantime, don’t be surprised if more Apple Watch deals or price adjustments crop up in the coming months.