Apple Watch: 50 Shades Of 'Meh'
This piece was originally posted on March 9, 2015 and contains the opinions of the author, Kristin Bentz, President at Talented Blonde, LLC, that do not reflect the opinions of Benzinga.com.
50 Shades of Meh Indeed.
After sitting through a pretty painful presentation today of all things Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), I'm even more disappointed in the Apple Watch.
I can feel you gasping as you read this. You see, I've done serious time in the coal mine that is luxury timepieces. I've worked with everyone from Jeager Le-Coultre, to Zenith and launched many a luxury timepiece campaign.
Until you've truly experienced the horological Super Bowl that is BASEL WORLD you haven't lived—
...or truly witnessed what a real luxury timepiece launch and marketing effort should resemble. I've often noted in my research that Apple is really more of a luxury stock than a tech stock, and should be viewed as such.
As the lines between technology and fashion continue to blur, the stakes get higher to maintain innovation, and also enter the inner sanctum of the Luxury goods consumer.
Apple made some truly bold moves in its evolution to true luxury brand with the poaching of Angela Ahrendts from Burberry—a luxury marketing powerhouse, the former CEO of YSL, Paul Deneve, and of course Sir Jonathan Paul Ives-the mad scientist and senior vice president of Design.
With this stable of brand and luxury power and experience it truly shocks me how pedestrian the Apple Watch looks. Seriously, the Apple Sport watch model looks more the kid version I would buy for my twin 6 year olds from Vtech. The stainless version with mesh band is dangerously reminiscent of the danish Skagen brand, popular back in the late 1990s.
And with a $10,000 price point for the gold version, I see no unique selling proposition for the consumer.
Most of the functions Cook mentioned are already present and available on my iPhone. And, I can barely type out Twitter and Tumblr missives fast enough on my handheld let alone trying to navigate the lilliputian screen on the Apple Watch. I just don't find the Apple Watch compelling.
There are two distinct customers here in my opinion: tech early adopters, and serious watch collectors.
That said it will be very interesting to see how the company markets and merchandises these timepieces. Here's where the romance comes in with luxury goods. A $10,000 piece of jewelry/timepiece needs merchandising and salesmanship that truly evokes how special and technically precise the product is.
The selling staff not only needs to be proficient in explaining all the technical features and applications, but also needs to understand they are selling a luxury timepiece. I clearly don't want the smug kid in the Genius Bar T-shirt with ADD trying to sell me a seriously expensive timepiece while he's helping a retired couple play Candy Crush on their I-PAD.
The Apple Corporate Culture may not be as inclusive to these luxury experts like Ahrendts and Deneve.
I truly wonder how much input they were allowed. Hopefully we see that in the form of merchandising and product training when the Apple Watches start shipping. Mind you, no one's gotten rich betting against Apple, but not EVERY single product they launch is a slam dunk (LISA anyone?)
To truly dominate the wearable tech space I believe they will need many more iterations of the Apple watch until they get it right. We'll see if time is truly on their side.
Disclosure: Author holds no positions in any of the companies mentioned.
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