Shouldn't there be bunting, or at least a morning news show packed with shots of adoring Apple fans queuing up at Regent Street and variously other Apple Stores around the world? Is it just me, or does today's launch of the Apple Watch seem just a little muted?
It certainly seems that way -- and today's news that just 8% of marketers questioned by digital marketing agency Greenlight are working on a Watch app would suggest that marketers are taking a cautious approach too. That's not necessarily negative because one in three marketers reveal they are considering it. It appears to be a classic chicken-and-egg situation. Nobody's sure how well the Apple Watch will be received. If people vote with their wrists, the apps will come. Apparently 3 million have been made, though Apple is not revealing how many have been bought.
It's reasonable to expect they will sell out fairly soon -- after all, this is Apple. It has enough dedicated fans to snap up whatever new product it brings out. You can't help but think the Watch is slightly different, however. Not only is it a move to a fashion accessory, rather than a screen which bring information to its owner, but it's also a hugely complex product. For a brand that started off with any colour you like, as long as it's black approach to technology -- only introducing colour with the iPhone 5c recently -- the Watch is a massive departure. There are not only three different ranges to pick from, but just the entry Watch model alone has twenty variants. Across all three ranges there are screen size and strap considerations to bear in mind.
That's what has always surprised me about the Apple Watch. It has been launched with this complexity, and it hasn't grown variants or developed colour options over time. It's a very non-Apple product. To start with, it's not something a lot of people are going to order online without first seeing on their wrist. You can just assume you want the latest iPhone or iPad and click the "buy" button. Watches are very different and with that level of complexity, it means stores are going to have to keep an immense amount of stock to allow people to explore the range. Trouble is, the early reports are that these stock levels are in the process of running out.
So even if stores keep back non-working models for people to try on, just to see how they look, we then end up in a very non-Apple situation of being in a store and considering ordering our watch for delivery sometime in the future. Apple has never been about this. The brand is all about instant gratification. You open up the box and it works. For those of us who have been frustrated about getting a gadget that needs to be charged up for a day before you can start playing with it, this has always impressed -- it still does.
It's a very bold move for Apple, and it will take a massive leap of faith among fans who have either pre-ordered or will be ordering watches for several hundred pounds. The early feedback I've had from pals who have tried out the Watch are the obvious observations that it just feels and looks great -- but also that having alerts and emails coming through and interrupting a song you may be playing is quite annoying. I guess there's a flight mode for that? Then there's the issue of the battery struggling to last throughout the day without needing to be recharged. Not one friend has said it's something you've just got to have, no matter how much it costs. It's not like the iPad launch, where suddenly you just had to have one.
Nevertheless, research from GfK, reported on in Marketing Week today, reveals that one in ten are considering buying an Apple Watch. However, that puts the device in sixth place in intent to purchase behind a smartphone, tablet, laptop, games console and smart TV. The research company concluded that the Watch is Apple's greatest challenge to date because it's a new sector and very untested waters.
On public trial today is Apple's ability to persuade us we need gadgets we weren't aware we need, let alone want but somehow just have to have.
The Apple Watch is here to stay and is most likely to be a success but not in the overnight sense Apple is used to. It's a slow burner, this one.