The MisMarketing of the Apple Watch

by francine Hardaway on April 15, 2015

By the time I woke up April 14 at 5 AM PDT and logged onto the Apple Store, the delivery date for the Apple Watch Sport was June.

My first clue to the mis-marketing of this product was the fact that I could even get into the store. When the phones and the IPad launched, you couldn’t get into the store for a day. There just weren’t that many people who wanted the watch, and yet they ran out of early supply in a matter of minutes.

So Apple scammed us?. The company ordered low numbers on the watch, told us to order online, and allowed itself to run out without even overloading the store.

When I decided I might try to buy the Watch anyway, I got a screen that said “add AppleCare $49” and then “add a magnetic charger $49” and then “charging cable $19” ; with the choices I made, by the time I got to the checkout it would be $427 to buy something that I didn’t even know if I wanted. The forced upsell. I did the retailer’s nightmare; I abandoned my cart in anger and frustration and got on Twitter to bitch. Warner Crocker helpfully told me I didn’t have to buy the charging cable; one came in the box. But that was not intuitive from the order form.

Next issue: I’m a short woman with thin wrists, so I thought I’d want one in the 38 mm size which is probably the size for my wrist. Unfortunately, that’s probably not the size for my eyes. I’m not sure that anyone inside Apple marketing thinks of older people with vision problems when they think of  designing the Apple Watch. I had that problem with Pebble when I first got mine; I couldn’t see the screen. Still can’t see it unobtrusively; I really have to focus. And no, I don’t want to wear glasses. We widows may have money to spend ( you’d be surprised where the philanthropy money is concentrated in the US), but we are clearly not the market for tech products. Not only does the wearer have to be without vision difficulties, but she probably can’t have arthritis, either. I also no longer have anyone to tap my heartbeat to, except perhaps my cardiologist, I have an amusing visual of a cardiologist sitting in front of a dashboard on which are displayed the taps of heartbeats from the Apple Watches of his wealthy patients.

When I went to check online to see what other people’s experiences had been I found that by and large they weren’t satisfactory. Many people had the same experience I did — they got on the store site and found that the ship date was June or July. In the UK, somebody went to the Apple Store to try on the $17,000 edition and found out that the staff was not trained to sell it.

Now these may be one-off experiences and the Watch may be wonderful for all I know, but if you’re trying to get someone who regularly wears a watch , especially another kind of watch as I do the Pebble , and who is satisfied with that watch,  to change, it won’t happen that easily with what was on display so far of the customer experience. I’m a bit tougher to persuade than Apple thinks, despite the fact that I stood in line for the first iPhone.

And yes I know that the first iPhone was not ready for prime time either, and became much better with the App Store, but I stood in line because it seemed like such a fun community experience. Now that we’ve been encouraged to order online we are not having a community experience, we are having a frustrating one in which it is easy to lose motivation — the kind of experience the kind that makes you abandon your cart at the check out and wait for the dust to settle so you can see whether this is even worth doing, or whether I should just save my pennies for a VR headset or a new drone.

I believe it was a really bad marketing idea to try to drive people online for this one. We badly needed some hype and motivation to love this product.

Update: I succumbed and ordered it. Delivery date is June. Early reports from people who have it tell me that I should perhaps cancel.

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