Some Thoughts On Watches

One of my most controversial predictions at year end was:

The Apple Watch will not be the homerun product that iPod, iPhone, and iPad have been. Not everyone will want to wear a computer on their wrist.

With the Pebble Time making records on Kickstarter this month,¬†with the iWatch coming soon, and with a host of Android powered watches coming to market, it sure feels like the “watch moment” in tech.

However, I continue to think that these computers on your wrist are not going to be a mainstream thing.

Monday night we went out to dinner with a bunch of tech investors in LA. Not one of the women at the table was interested in wearing an iWatch or any other “smartwatch”. Not one of them. They all said that watches are jewelry for them and they are interested in beauty and fashion on their wrists, not features and functions. Only one of the men was interested in an iWatch and he said he wouldn’t wear it but he wanted to “play with it.”

Yesterday at the Morgan Stanley Internet Conference, I was on stage with Bill Gurley and Alfred Lin and we were asked about the iWatch. There were several hundred public market tech investors in the room. I asked the room how many wore watches. About half raised their hands. I then asked how many were going to get the iWatch. About 20% raised their hands.

If 40% of watch wearers get an iWatch, then its going to be a massive hit. But that was a room full of tech investors.

I guess to some extent this is a question of expectations. And I have no idea what the expectations are for iWatch sales this year. I don’t really care about iWatch. But I am interested how many people who carry a smartphone in our pockets and purses will wear a companion device on our wrists. I just don’t think it will be that large of a percentage.

And every time I ask the question of real people who have the means to buy anything they want, I get answers that more or less reinforce my views.

So take that for what it’s worth. Soon enough we will know the real answer. And it is important because developers will build for this new platform. New applications will emerge for this platform. And it really matters if its the next big mobile device category or if its more of a niche business.