Let the Apple Watch Naysaying Begin

Three times since the turn of the millennium, Apple has unveiled a disruptive product – the iPod in 2001, the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010.

In the weeks before the official unveiling of each, and sometimes in the immediate aftermath, the tech and popular press were filled with doom and gloom predictions for these products. They’ll be too expensive. No one wants them. No one understands what they do.

You’d think having driven down this road so often that critics would begin to recognize the scenery. Apparently not.

This week, Apple will officially announce its long-awaited Apple Watch, with prices starting at $350. And, sure enough, tech oracles already are predicting failure for the same litany of reasons as they did for Apple’s previously successful game-changing products.

The primary reason CNNMoney thinks “The Apple Watch will flop” is that it’s too expensive and won’t do anything more than the iPhone does.

Tech Radar lists five reasons why the Apple Watch will fail, noting that “Apple crafted a fine product that nobody needs.”

Indicating a surprising lack of historical perspective, the New York Times published “Apple’s New Job: Selling a Smartwatch to an Uninterested Public.”

The Times correctly points out that:

Apple has been in this situation before. Most consumers didn’t care about computer tablets before Apple released the iPad, nor did they generally think about buying smartphones before the release of the iPhone. In both cases, the company overcame initial skepticism.

What Apple really did was create iOS devices that fueled a desire for completely new products no one thought they wanted or needed. The company basically created new categories that didn’t exist. Think about minivans and SUVs. We had cars and we had trucks. Automakers had a vision for new categories of automobiles, so they made them, successfully marketed them and created a whole new automotive business.

Apple’s opportunity is obvious. Smartwatches have been largely over-hyped. Despite all the brouhaha over the category, the Smartwatch Group reports that 89 vendors managed to sell only 6.8 million smartwatches last year at an average price of $189.

Why are the smartwatch sales numbers so low? My guess: smartwatches have to be charged on an almost daily basis, which is completely counter-intuitive for a watch. This lack of convenience has not been overwhelmed by a smartwatch’s perceived benefits—or by the inability of smartphone vendors to really sell the perceived benefits. Perhaps Apple will be able to sell the perceived benefits.

I’m not saying that the Apple Watch will be the indisputably disruptive success that the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad were. Although I do think critics are missing something obvious. (See Apple Watch’s Wrist of Convenience.)

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me thrice and whatever the word for four times is? Other than parading through Times Square clad only in your tighty-whiteys, predicting the failure of a new Apple product may be the quickest way to make yourself look foolish.