Who is the Apple Watch for?

Apple Watch

The Apple Watch allows users to keep their phones in their pockets while they’re on the go. But as a remote worker, my phone’s never in my pocket, and I’m never on the go. My iPhone sits on my desk, always within view. I can easily see each new notification as it rolls in. Why would I buy another, smaller screen to duplicate those alerts?

So, the Watch isn’t for telecommuters. That made me think: who else isn’t the Watch for?

  • The Watch isn’t for non-iPhone users. The wearable requires an Apple phone tether to link it to the Internet. If you find the iPhone’s stubborn idiosyncrasies maddening, the Watch is unlikely to sway you to buy into Apple’s ecosystem.
  • The Watch isn’t for the cash-strapped. The cheapest version starts at $350, and a modest stainless steel Watch/band combo will cost you a cool grand. And that’s leaving out the ostentatious gold Edition. Not many can afford a device to distract them from their other $600+ device.
  • The Watch isn’t for those with non-geeky friends. The Watch’s most personal features—heartbeat broadcasts, animated emoticons, tiny sketched messages—only work if you have someone with whom to share them. There just aren’t many Watches in the wild yet—especially among “normals.”
  • The Watch isn’t for those who dislike its aesthetics. Based on photos, the Watch seems just a wee bit too thick to take seriously.

So there are plenty of people who can rule out the current Apple Watch pretty easily. But here’s the thing: it’s striking how little it would take for Apple to market the Watch to a broader audience:

  • Non-iPhone users: If the Apple Watch had its own Internet connection—and didn’t depend on its iPhone big brother—its customer base would likely multiply. Users could adopt the Watch without abandoning Android—even without upgrading from their dumb phones.
  • The cash-strapped: Eventually, the Watch’s price will drop. $350 feels like a luxury item; $200 (for example) flirts with the “splurge” territory.
  • Those without Watch-wearing friends: As adoption slowly ramps up, it will become more likely that you know someone else with an Apple Watch. And, as your family and friends buy their own Watches, you may acquire an acute sense of FOMO.
  • The fashion-conscious. The Watch’s too-thick body must be at the top of Apple’s list. I’d expect a dramatically slimmer Watch within two or three product cycles.

As Apple iterates on the Watch, obstacles to ownership will start to fall. As with the iPad and iPhone, the second and third incarnations promise to be the Watches you’ll really want to own.

Of course, new hardware and software features aren’t enough to overcome my main source of indifference. As long as I work from home, that iPhone remains within easy reach.