Hundreds descended upon San Francisco for Glance, the first ever conference to take an in-depth look at the Apple Watch. Where better to take a whole day to professionally geek-out over the Apple wearable than in Apple’s own backyard? The general consensus is that the Apple Watch is likely to mirror the growth patterns of the iPod and iPhone with exponential growth. It also mirrors the iPhone’s history in that the 1st Gen is gorgeous, but needs some work.
Key Figures from the Glance:
• 80%. Apple's estimated market share of smartwatches.
• 30%. Apple Watch owners who never wore anything on their wrists before.
• 27%. Apple Watch owners have lost weight according to surveys.
• $250. The sweet spot where serious volume may occur in Apple Watch sales.
• 40%. Apple Watch users that have used their nose as an input device.
Speakers ranged from former Apple executives, Fashion Bloggers, analytic companies and software developers covering a variety of topics such as, markets, ecosystems, and opportunities that surround the Apple Watch.
Staggering Apple Watch Sales Numbers
Horace Dediu from Asymco shockingly pointed out that Apple is estimated to sell between 8-12 million watches this year. This number is staggering when considering that competitors have not sold much more than 1 million smartwatch units in a single year. He added that it's possible that Apple will sell more watches this year than the entire smartwatch market has sold to date. Evidence of this was the volume of watches sold through Best Buy with the $100 rebate on Black Friday.
Granted, a great deal of these numbers for Apple Watch sales are estimated, but even with rough estimates, it is blowing competitors out of the water. Numbers approaching 50 million watches per year within 2-3 years was talked about by both venture capital and analytic participants.
John Lilly from Greylock went as far as saying that it is "very reasonable to assume that Apple will dominate a (smartwatch) market that involves fashion more than other markets they get into. Apple is one of the few technology brands that is also considered a fashion brand at the same time."
The fashion aspects of the watch were discussed by various bloggers, including Liza Kindred, Maribel Lopez and Lisa Carnochan. They agreed that Apple was wise to position the Apple Watch as a fashion item and that it works well with their brand. However, they cautioned of the time it will take for tech to work itself into the fashion world. While there are plenty of companies making Apple Watch accessories (like yours truly), the fashion forward folks of Manhattan are notorious for being very hesitant around anything that is technology based. Liza Kindred, from Third Wave Fashion, pointed out the fact that even Anna Wintour, the queen of NY fashion, still uses a flip phone daily. So the Hermes partnership for the Apple Watch was a big win for Apple and speaks to the future of the watch always having a fashion-oriented direction.
Former Apple Execs Speak Out
One of the most interesting features of the day was hearing from two former Apple executives, both of whom worked closely with the late Steve Jobs during the early Apple years. Tim Bajarin and Jean-Louis Gassee discussed the Apple Watch and their take on Apple's newest tech category. They are both big fans of the Watch and pointed out that this product is clearly in the DNA that Steve left behind when he passed away. Though it's believed Steve had little to do with the watch development, it has his classic design elements all over it.
Tim Bajarin made a really interesting point on how every apple product after Steve’s return in the late 90's started with industrial design first. Examples like the Click Wheel for the iPod, the multi-touch Screen on the iPhone and now the Digital Crown on the Apple Watch. All of these are very classic Industrial design features that are thought through first, then software/hardware that works with the physical design is implemented for effortless workability.
Jean-Louise pointed out that when Apple released the watch, the sheer beauty and fashion aspect of the design made the vast majority of all competitors look suddenly very cheap. Again this was something that comes from a team who worked under Steve Jobs himself. Go way beyond what your competitors are thinking and make them realize they missed it by the wisdom of your industrial and software design. That was the mantra of the Jobs’ age of Apple, one that is still being honored today.
Tim addressed some of the various tech complaints on the first watch. He said like many Apple products, this is first generation Apple. Wait and watch it get much better every year. Tim's opinion and experience at Apple tells him that this is very typical and normal. Create a new product that is beautiful and operates well enough, hook in millions of users (customers), get their data, and make the next one and even larger roaring success.
Jean-Louis made a funny comment related to criticism that Tim Cook is no Steve Jobs during presentations. He said, "That's nonsense, my wife would never listen to Steve Jobs. She did not like him at all. She loves the products, though." His point was that Apple reach is far beyond the techies who loved a Jobs’ presentation. Tim gets that and is going after the rest of the market. Jean-Louis thinks he's doing a very fine job of that.
The Glance conference may have been a professional geek-out but it was also very informative of Apple Watch trends to look out for. The Apple Watch is on an upward trajectory, one that we plan on hitching a ride on here at Pad and Quill with our apple watch bands, stands, and other gear. It is good to see that even the experts agree that the heart and soul of Steve Jobs’ Apple is still in full force and hasn’t lost its way, but rather, refined and sharpened it.
TL;DR: Apple Watch has the lion’s share of the smartwatch market and will continue to.