Do Apple’s bumper figures mask failings of its Watch? And what’s it really like to wear?

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Apple has reported quarterly profits up by $3bn year-on-year, but refuses to disclose how many Apple Watches it has sold. We also get the low-down from a designer who wears the watch –”it can be awkward around other people” he tells us…

Apple Watch

Apple has delivered a quarterly profit of $10.7bn (£6.8bn) – up $3bn year-on-year – citing strong sales for iPhone and Mac. However, it refuses to be drawn on how the Apple Watch has contributed, referring to it only as a “successful launch”.

iPhone and Mac make up majority of sales

The profit was made on revenue of $49.6bn (£31.7bn) and Apple points to a 59% hike in iPhone sales and a 9% increase in Mac sales.

However the Apple Watch has been bundled into a category the company calls “Other Products” which also includes Apple TV, Beats Electronics, iPod and Apple-branded and third party accessories.

This category is shown to have made a 33% increase in revenue in the first four months of this year but Apple refuses to break these figures down any further.

“Apple Watch metrics could help our competitors”

Apple chief financial officer Luca Maestri says that the watch has “more than offset the decline of iPod and accessory sales” and reasons: “We do not plan to disclose Apple Watch metrics because we don’t intend to provide insight that could help our competitors.”

Chief executive Tim Cook concurs, saying that the fact that some products in the category – including the iPod – showed shrinking sales underlines the success of the Watch.

He adds that Watch sales “exceeded our expectations and they did so despite supply trailing demand”. He even states that it is more popular than the iPad and the iPhone were over comparable launch periods.

New Watch OS in the offing to encourage “native” apps

There are no hard figures to back this up though and Apple told Design Week it was unwilling to break down the figures any further.

Cook says there are currently 8,500 apps available to the Watch and with an operating system in the offing, (WatchOS 2) it will mean that “native” apps can be developed for the product.


What’s it like to wear the Apple Watch?

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We wondered what designers think of the Apple Watch so we asked Method’s senior interaction designer Jesper Bröring, who owns one and wears it every day.

“Overall the Apple Watch is physically a nicely designed product but that is expected from Apple. The biggest frustration is that it doesn’t do much and it (currently) doesn’t add much to your life.

Notifications are the most interesting thing about the Apple Watch. The taptic engine feels very suitable on your wrist. A normal vibrating engine would have been awkward. I would say the Apple Watch can be a great notification filter, as it allows you to make quick actions, like archiving emails and filtering.

As an activity tracker, it is sufficient and a nice feature to have. However it completely fails when you are looking at the tracked data within HealthKit, which is just not good enough.

In the beginning I thought that the activity goals and standing reminder were really good but the notifications can become annoying.

Using the watch in a public space still feels awkward. initially it felt weird using the watch on the underground but now that feels more comfortable. Talking to Siri for me in public spaces is a no-go. I just don’t do that, feels to weird. At home I do use Siri for timers and replying to messages though.

It can be awkward using the Watch around other people. Everyone knows when you are checking it, even if it is just a notification. And personally I have found – and heard from others – that having something on your wrist is harder to ignore than just having a phone in your pocket buzzing.

The cross-over with your iPhone is pretty good, Handover works well. Some apps are good; Uber or Hailo work well because you basically tap one button.

However Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are probably the most used third-party apps on phones, and personally I don’t see why I would want to use any of those things on my Watch. Photos look much nicer on your phone, which is also way faster.

On the battery life, for me it is sufficient. It lasts about 1.5 days. I take it off before I go to bed, when I wake up I put it on the charger and when I leave the apartment I slap the watch on my wrist. That lasts for the whole day, while I track both of my short cycle commutes which is quite battery intensive for the watch.

In the beginning what really annoyed me is being connected all the time. For me that was just too much. But I bought the watch to see how it would work and if it is something that the mass market would adopt. I think, in its current state, not a lot of people will buy it.

When the iPhone came out people would recommend it to others but right now I wouldn’t recommend the Watch. It doesn’t add much to your life.”

We also asked Poke creative director Nicolas Roope, the interaction and industrial designer, who feels that the watch is an anomaly, which shouldn’t upset the “juggernaut of design and innovation” that is Apple. 

“Apple are the most amazing company in the world because they’ve invented completely new categories of product and experience, grown them at an breakneck pace into mainstream phenomena and then completely dominated them.

What ‘normal’ means for Apple is creating a completely new idea, manifested in a completely new kind of product, within a completely new ecosystem, but the whole thing being plug-and-playable for a toddler. So what happens when this juggernaut of design and innovation smashes into an mature, well defined category? You could say it happened before with the iPhone, but in truth this wasn’t a case of a ‘much better phone’ but more ‘a completely new kind of connected device that also functions as a phone’. Phones didn’t just need fixing, they needed reimagining and that’s exactly what Apple did.

By contrast I never heard anyone complain that their watch was rubbish as they did their old fiddly GSM boxes, that Steve booted out of existence. People who love their watches aren’t in it for the feature list, but more romantic and abstract notions of beauty and value.

It’s also of course what will happen when the Apple car comes crashing through the media some time soon. Cars, like watches aren’t like computers and windows into another realm, they’re real-world stuff packed as much with symbols, signals and emotions as they are features and ‘user-experiences’.

To get 99 out of a 100 isn’t a bad result at all, particularly if you’re spitting out $10B a quarter profit on the other 99 where you ‘totally f*****g nailed it’. And maybe a wake-up-call to the amazing creative forces at the helm of this epochal company is a useful thing right now, to get the bridge to maybe slow things down little in readiness, as a few icebergs start to appear on the horizon.”


Discover more:

Inside the Apple Watch

• Apple Watch design unveiled

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• Marc Newson joins Apple

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