Sorry, Apple Watch: New Gadgets Are Almost Never Overnight Hits
Sometimes, new consumer products are instant successes. Take the Samsung Galaxy S3, which set a new standard for Android phones, received universal acclaim from critics, and established Samsung as the go-to Android phone maker. Or consider the Kindle Paperwhite, an e-reader whose stellar screen technology kept the whole device category relevant, even as power-hungry tablets continued to increase in popularity.
The list of recent hits goes on: the iPhone 6 (10 million sold in the first weekend), the Galaxy Note 4 (5-star reviews and gold-standard for big-screen phones), the PS4 (set a new record for first-month console sales).
But take a second glance at the products listed above, and you'll find one striking consistency: every hit is a sequel in an existing product line—a refinement after two, three or five iterations. The reality? First versions are almost never overnight blockbusters.
This brings us to the Apple Watch. The reviews have been hesitant, and several critics have advised customers to wait for a later version. Third-party apps are sluggish. Navigation is often confusing. The bands are excellent, but the interface is hit and miss.
Is the Apple Watch, as a product line, doomed? Let's break down five other original products, complete with average review scores at launch, early reactions, and success of each product line over time.
1. Apple iPhone (2007)
Normalized Review Average: 80 percent based on 5 expert reviews*
Initial reactions: Nearly every early reviewer loved the iPhone's fresh interface and user-friendliness. Still, the high price tag ($600) and lack of some key features (ex: recording video, texting multiple people at once), left a few critics unconvinced.
How the line turned out: Today, the iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and reviews have only gotten better from generation to generation.
*We compiled expert ratings from sites like CNET, PC World, WIRED, and Laptop Mag for each gadget, then converted their scores to a 100-point scale.
2. Apple iPad (2010)
Normalized Review Average: 77.5 percent based on 8 expert reviews
Initial reactions: Following the iPad's announcement, several commentators complained that the iPad was nothing more than a big iPod Touch. Like with the Apple Watch, reviewers praised the overall design, but wondered whether the device really solved a new problem.
How the line turned out: The iPad went on to sell at a faster pace than the original iPhone. Reviews for later models have been consistently stellar—usually around 90% on average. (It's worth noting, however, that iPad sales seem to have plateaued, while iPhone sales continue to grow to this day.)
3. Microsoft Surface RT (2012)
Normalized Review Average: 74 percent based on 5 expert reviews
Initial reactions: Most critics celebrated the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) Surface's original concept, but they criticized the operating system and lack of apps. "Wait for more apps," said CNET. "The app ecosystem needs to catch up," said LAPTOP Mag.
How the line turned out: Through three generations, Microsoft pivoted toward a more powerful concept, the Surface Pro 3, with a revised marketing slogan: "The tablet that can replace your laptop." While review scores haven't improved significantly, experts seem more comfortable with the product's new niche. "Forget apps," said Wired, "it runs full desktop software."
4. Pebble Watch (2013)
Normalized Review Score: 70 percent based on 4 expert reviews
Initial reactions: Reviewers loved Pebble's first watch for its potential and ambition, but found the device under-featured and somewhat buggy.
How the line turned out: The Pebble smartwatch line has become a small-brand favorite among a glut of watches from bigger brands. While the latest version (the Pebble Time) lacks the power and polish of an Apple Watch, Pebble remains a cult favorite and geeky alternative.
5. Amazon Kindle (2007)
Normalized Review Score: 66 percent based on 5 expert reviews
Initial reactions: For reviewers, the first-edition Kindle (2007) was intriguing in concept, but far too pricey at $400, which resulted in a series of mediocre reviews.
How the line turned out: The modern-day Kindle Voyage is the class of the industry, and by far the best e-reader on the market. The latest models have received glowing reviews from nearly every publication.
→ Apple Watch (2015)
Normalized Review Average: 75 percent based on 4 expert reviews
Initial reactions: Reviewers love the exterior design of the Apple Watch, but some find the user interface a bit confusing. Most feel the device has incredible potential, but user adoption will be critical.
How the line turned out: The Apple Watch's so-so reviews don't prove anything yet. The product could still flop. It could still be a smashing success. All we know for sure is that this is business as usual for a first version product. Time, not reviews, will tell.
The post Sorry, Apple Watch: New Gadgets Are Almost Never Overnight Hits appeared first on FindTheBest: The Official Blog.
Image credit: Apple
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