Earlier this week I listed five reasons why the Apple Watch will succeed, and now I'm back to look at the glass half-empty. The device is sure to sell like gangbusters out of the gate, but to achieve long-term success, Apple needs to find solutions to the following problems.
1. It lacks a defining must-have feature
The iPod promised a thousand songs in your pocket; the iPad packed the most popular functions of a PC into a portable package; and the iPhone brought smartphones out of the BlackBerry age. Apple's biggest products have been disruptive and transformative - but can we say the same about the Apple Watch? It does a lot of things, but nothing that can't already be done on another device. Apple Watch seems to hold a slight advantage in tracking health and fitness data, but the point is there's no single feature that marketers can use to define the product as unique or necessary.
2. It needs an iPhone
Anyone who doesn't own a newish iPhone can't use an Apple Watch. This is a significant limitation, because even though millions of people have iPhones, competing handsets make up the majority of the market. Apple's biggest products have always broadened its audience, but the Apple Watch seems confined to the company's current customers. A PC user might still buy an iPad, and someone with a Samsung tablet might still pick a MacBook, but zero Android users will own an Apple Watch.
3. People don't wear watches anymore
I wore a watch for years, but quit when I got used to pulling out my iPhone all the time. I suspect that's pretty common - who really needs a watch on their wrist in addition to the one in their pocket? This won't be a big issue for those who never gave up on the wristwatch, but many others may need convincing that Apple Watch is worth the hassle.
4. It's yet another gadget to carry
Our pockets, purses and backpacks are bursting with digital devices these days, from mobile phones and tablets to health trackers and handheld game systems. At the very least, every Apple Watch user will also carry an iPhone. More than ever, a product really has to earn a spot on our person, and as I said above, the Apple Watch doesn't appear to add anything decisively new or essential to the mix.
5. It'll be pricey
The entry-level Apple Watch is expected to go for $350 - that's $150 more than an entry-level iPhone 6 with contract. The extra cost makes sense when you compare the breadth and richness of its features and functions with those of lesser smartwatches, but $350 is still $350. With no clear, defining reason to own one, many could view the device as nice but not necessary. The price tag is where the rubber meets the road, and if Apple hasn't addressed its product's deficiencies in other categories, the high cost could be too much to overcome.