The Apple Watch has an identity crisis, and that’s killing sales


Apple loves to brag about sales figures for all of its devices except one – the Apple Watch. When to comes to this device, Apple executives all clam up, claiming that to divulge sales figures for this device would somehow give its competitors some valuable information. So in the absence of official figures, analysts are left to fill that information vacuum, and the consensus is that sales are bad.

The F-word – failure – is bandied about a lot in relation to the Apple Watch.

So why is Apple having a problem selling this bit of shiny kit, when it’s not had any problems moving hundreds of millions of units of other shiny things?

The problem, as I see it, has nothing to do with the technology itself, or the price of the Apple Watch, or for that matter the fact that its functionality is so tied to having an iPhone nearby. It’s much more subtle than that, and it could be something hard for Apple to address.

The problem is that it’s hard to explain concisely what the Apple Watch does.

Think about it. Almost every other hardware product that Apple has released over the years has been something well-defined and easy to describe in a few words.

  • Mac/iMac: A computer
  • MacBook: A folding Mac
  • iPod: A portable music player
  • iPhone: A phone that’s also a computer, and it also runs apps
  • iPad: A big iPhone, without the phone bit

Now try describing the Apple Watch without going generic and calling it a “smartwatch” or a “fitness band.” Go on, I’ll give you a few minutes if you want.