Watches, Wrists, and Wearables

I’ve written a fair bit about this topic over the past few years. I’ve been a skeptic that watches are the next big thing in mobile devices. But I also believe that wearables will be important in our ongoing effort to integrate computation and data into our every day life.

The smartwatch sector has been around for a number of years now and Apple took a big shot at it with the launch of the Apple Watch a year ago in April 2015. It hasn’t gone that well for Apple and it begs the question of that means for watches and wearables.

Here’s a google trends query I ran this morning to get some sense of what is going on in this market.

The Apple Watch was supposed to crush its competition and yet that has not happened. Fitbit is stronger than ever and is currently generating more search interest (only one measure and maybe not the best one) than the Apple Watch. A new version of the Apple Watch is coming out soon and maybe that will be a game changer. I am skeptical.

I think wearables are more of a fashion item than computers and smartphones. It is also not clear that the network effects of operating systems and application platforms that have made computers and smartphones a duopoly are as prevalent in wearables. It is very likely that wearables are an accessory to a smartphone more than an application platform in and of itself.

I think wearables will be a big category but there won’t be one iconic device that dominates like iPhone dominates smartphones in the US. Some of us will wear an Apple Watch, some will wear a Fitbit, some will wear a Here in our ear, some will wear a Dash in our ear.

I am wondering when we will see the smart nose ring come to market.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Jess Bachman

    I dunno, the smart belly jewelry that I wear still turns heads at the beach.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Taking naval gazing to a new level

  2. Nick

    Battery life needs to improve and the watch segment all need to incorporate HR monitors that can accurately measure active and passive HR. Currently have to use chest strap for active and watch for passive.The killer app for wrist based wearables is health.

  3. Brandon Kessler

    Watch + voice bot (e.g. Alexa) = future game changer

    1. Twain Twain

      Not quite, Brandon — see “Whale in Room = Natural Language AI” for all chatbots.There’s some erroneous assumption that chatbots recording lots and lots of conversations mean they’ll understand us. Not so. Google Now’s been recording our queries for a while and their AI gurus (and their friends at Stanford) still have 0 idea how to solve the Natural Language problems.See also Apple’s new patent filings for gestures over Apple Watch and other devices published this month.If you remember last year at Launch, my team hacked a gesture recognition app with Apple iPhone, FLIR One and it was the first one in the world to gesture-tweet retail intent (online+offline interaction).Macy’s gave us an honorable mention on Twitter.My call would be on embedded devices (rather than VR/AR headsets) with gestures and voice.But, as vital priority, the Natural Language problem in AI persists and that needs to be solved first.That solution would be media-agnostic (works across mobile, wearable, smart TV, IoT devices).———By the way, at London event, FLIR team chose my team’s hack as 1st. That was a wearable for visually-impaired and young kids who can’t read “Danger! Hot!” signs.FLIR has featured it on their developer website.Neal Shyam also featured it on DevPost and it got the most views of all FLIR’s hacks.Both the gesture-tweet app and the wearable were my product ideas.———-@fredwilson:disqus – Ha, well, I wouldn’t keep burning $ hundreds millions some of the big techcos are on iterating along wrong models of Natural Language AI and hardware media.Apple, though, I’m hopeful for because the heART factor is in their product DNA. They just haven’t done anything notable in AI — other than acquire SIRI for a reported $200+ million, within months of launch.Steve Jobs: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields the results that make our hearts sing.”The AI community & its Deep Learning experts haven’t read and understood that memo yet.I have because it’s been obvious for as long as I first became aware of Apple that Steve Jobs was Da Vincian in his approach whereas Google, MS & others are Descartian logicians.Apple’s nature is different from theirs because of that founding DNA.

  4. JimHirshfield

    I agree that best use case for “smart-enabled” watch format is as an extension of the mobile phone. I bought a Pebble Time with the intent to use it as a sleep tracker and swim lap counter. I did indeed use it for those use cases – briefly. Turns out it’s just a big headache to use those apps.Now, it’s function is as a notifications platform for email, texts, cal events, and other app notifications (all configurable, so I don’t need/want every notification). I like this use case because I can keep my phone on silent all the time, and have my watch vibrate for notifications I care about.

  5. Humberto

    there was the Big Brother everyone was scared about, and the Apple Watch is the Tiny Brother. It helps you focus on what’s more important and personal (health, small bits of communication). that said, i don’t think the market as a whole bought the idea or will buy it soon.. screen to small.when are we getting holograms?

  6. Joe Lazarus

    Have you tried the Here or the Dash? I’m intrigued by ear wearables since I already carry a pair of headphone with me many places. I’m assuming the tech isn’t quite there just yet. Hoping Apple / Beats do something interesting.

    1. JimHirshfield


      1. Joe Lazarus


    2. Yinka!

      I wonder about possible longterm health effects on the ear of wearing either device because ENT docs say stuff like the largest thing one should insert into one’s ears = an elbow. I.e. preferably nothing, including Qtips or earplugs but these devices are inserts.

  7. obarthelemy

    I’m wondering if wearables are currently specialized enough, especially smartwatches. Around me are 2 very distinct uses: fitness tracker, or notifications handler. Sure, there’s a fair bit of technical duplication, and there is a market for a combined device. But, since size and battery life are still very much an issue, I’m wondering if the best approach wouldn’t be specialized devices instead of catch-all stuff.Also, I can’t hate enough at Google for messing up Glass so badly. I’d love notification glasses that’d keep my hands free. But they can’t, can’t, CAN’T have a camera on them.

  8. awaldstein

    One question i don’t have an answer to:-Does success of Apple watch have anything to do with the culture of actually wearing one? In NY, neither I nor many of my circle of friends wear one. LA where I’ve been working with a team a fair bit, everyone seems to including a number of Apple ones.Comment on wearables:-agree on both accounts. In the Enterprise BYOD (your own device) is huge (and problematic) as a category and moving to more and more single purpose wearables. IoT trackable things will be 20.1Billion by 2020 and a piece of that are wearables. That’s a lot of data being emitted!

  9. andyswan

    I charge my fitbit every 4-5 days. It tells me when I have a text or a call. I can set a silent alarm. It keeps track of all my health/fitness data very well, and has a network effect with challenges with friends.Clear winner in round 1

    1. Brandon G. Donnelly

      i pre-ordered the first gen fitbit when the company was still brand new. i used it fairly regularly, but found it generally lacking. it counted steps, but didn’t know when i was lifting weights, riding my bike, etc.about a year later, i lost this fitbit. i think it was at the bar one night and the strap was bothering me. recently though, i decided that it was time to get back into fitness tracking now that the devices had decision was: fitbit vs. apple watch.the 2 things i wanted were sleeping monitoring and a heart rate monitor. if you have to charge the device every day/night though, then it’s pretty hard to do the former. so the AW was right away out.generally, i also have no desire to do shit on my wrist besides look at basic numbers/stats. i found the screen too small on AW to get much enjoyment out of it (i use the iphone plus size).we’ll see if that changes.

      1. andyswan

        It’ll be pretty badass when Apple gets the watch to project/hologram.

        1. Brandon G. Donnelly

          That could certainly change my view.Ps. The new disqus app is great for replying! Finally.

  10. Brandon Burns

    I’m not sure its fair to say FitBit is beating the Apple Watch. They serve different purposes.It seems like no one wearable can “win” the market. If any one company is to “win,” they might need to apply your app Constellation Theory to wearables. A fitness band, something for alerts on your wrist, something to record audio and visuals near your eyes/eyes, etc.The thing is, I can’t think of a killer application for wearables other than fitness. Folks need a reason to buy a product, and we haven’t seen too many compelling ones for wearables.But if/when those reasons come, I doubt they’ll all be best serviced by one wearables device. It seems it would make more sense if that are several, placed on different parts of the body.

  11. Eric

    They lack a compelling use case, and I don’t think that’s going to change. The universe of things that a wrist wearable can do that a smartphone *cannot* do is pretty much limited to activity tracking. So the market is limited to:1. People who are into personal fitness2. People who want a marginally more convenient way to do a subset of the things they do with their phone.Neither of these are ever going to be smartphone-sized markets.It’s also not surprising to me that Apple didn’t kill Fitbit. Fitbit is really focused on the “stuff a phone can’t do”, and appealing to that audience with a decent price point. Apple Watch on the other hand is a solution in search of a problem.

    1. LE

      Compelling use cases:a) Not having to have your phone on you in order to see who is texting you or is calling you.b) Being able to take a call (and talk and move around) without having to have your phone in your hands or next to you (big deal if you’ve ever tried to clean up the office and talk to mom w/o a bluetooth headset on).c) Not having to take your phone out of your pocket for “a” above.d) Notifications on the wrist.

      1. Eric

        If that’s the most “compelling” use case anyone can come up with then that just supports my point. Everything in that list fits under my point 2 – “marginally more convenient way to do a subset of the things your phone can do”.To summarize: For hundreds of dollars you can buy a device that will let you see who’s calling without taking your phone out of your pocket (as long as it’s within bluetooth range). I guess to some people that’s a good value proposition, given the number of people who’ve bought them when that’s pretty much all they offer.But my phone already shows me who’s calling and I can talk on it hands free. So call me crazy for not being in the market for a device that costs half as much (or more) as the phone itself, which I’d have to buy *in addition* to the phone, that just lets me do what the phone itself already does.The convenience of bringing those features to my wrist is a use case. It’s just not compelling by any reasonable definition of the word.

        1. LE

          I find it cheap for the value that it provides. You know when I went on vacation recently the breakfast cost me like $90 at the hotel. And it’s all gone now. I think I paid $399 for the Apple watch and it will last me easily 2 years (since I will get the new model). Plus I can sell the old Apple watch, it has residual value.My point is simply the cost relative to the iphone cost is not relevant to me anyway, it’s what do I get for the money. For $399 I got something that is easily worth $399.

      2. Lawrence Brass

        For people that use their smartphones as clocks I would add use case e), get the current time. Sounds silly but ask the time to anyone not wearing a traditional watch and see what happens.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      “limited to activity tracking”and control signalling against that activity trackingSo what sensors/actuators could possible surface that we humans would like to monitor and control from the convenience of our wrists ?

  12. Brian Kane

    think fashion, not function…

  13. Owen Davis

    Could the line in the sand be when the watches/wearables are more autonomous? When they have their own cell radio etc.. and you don’t need to pair them with a parent smartphone or other device? Perhaps then, the thought of playing a more primary role, may be more realistic.

  14. johnmccarthy

    I have a few FitBits and Nike Fuel Bands collecting dust. Have had an AW for a few weeks and really enjoy wearing it.

  15. jason wright

    do i need a Fitbit to get fit? i don’t think’s the P6 going?

  16. Amy Gross

    I see many benefits to wearables but, quite frankly, I’m not willing to give my wrist over to a piece of technology just yet. I enjoy the fashion of watches… even when the fashion there is a simple, classic look.I enjoy my FitBit, but it is clipped under my clothes, undetectable. Checking my stats on my iPhone, rather than with the turn of a wrist, is fine for me until something truly better comes along.

  17. jason wright

    surely the day is close at hand when my personal robot assistant will be carrying all this junk around for me and i can return to my natural human state.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      ” i can return to my natural human state”and that would be barefoot in the forest ?isn’t tech-augmented the natural human state ?the only question is when have we pushed it to far ?

      1. jason wright

        i’m sure tech interferes with my brain’s natural state. millions of years of evolution should be listened to.

  18. Bernard Desarnauts

    And @fr@fredwilson:disqus here is the link to the details of the last sat report we measured.… it won’t change your mind in terms of relative overall success but allow you to maybe tune your perception bias.

  19. Yinka!

    I can’t move beyond the form factor: As I’ve said before, that thing IS ugly. Yes, Apple is that crack dealer that keeps bringing the pipe (PCs, phones, tablets, etc) closer to you and its latest crack junction is your wrist. However, a watch is functional and ornamental object. So, to entice me into paying a premium to place something on my wrist, it better be alluring to me on a visceral level. But I can see why it’s doing well in overseas markets (China et al) with more aspirational buyers, where key issue is not form or usage but signaling, i.e. others know it’s an apple watch and that’s what matters.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Agree! By the way, I don’t think this necessarily means it has to be “pretty” as in blingy or jewelry-like. I’d be just as attracted to something that looked super-cool and futuristic.

      1. Yinka!

        Exactly. I would hope that if they revise the form, they’d know better than to throw out some “pretty” crap for female wearers. I’m keen on interesting/distinctive, not stereotyped design. They really should consider “open-sourcing” the form by allowing fashion product designers to create watch casings (like how anyone can create an app) to encase the OS. They have a lock on designing work industrial forms but not on fashion-influenced accessories for the body.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          “Make it in Pink!” LOL!Open sourcing the design is such a cool idea. They should just open it up to RISD and see what comes of it. Like Project Runway for the Apple Watch 😉

      2. Dan Moore

        Speaking of jewelry, I have to plug a wearables project I have been following: I know it is antithetical to this thread but still feel it can do some good in introducing hardware hacking to young women.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          I’m a Jewelbots backer 🙂 Pretty is cool, too. When I was the age that they’re targeting, pretty was much more important to me. That crew knows what they’re doing.

  20. Thees Peereboom

    After the WAN and the LAN there appeared to be a nascent PAN – a Personal Area Network. I seem to remember a ‘connected coat’ with some Philips contribution. Which makes me wonder why nobody extends wearables to clothing?

  21. Will Chang

    I think “device fatigue” is huge issue for any wearable maker. Studies/surveys have shown that up to 50% of new users lose interest in or just stop wearing their devices after a couple months.My suspicion is that this is true for Fitbit more than it is for the Apple Watch. While smartwatches aren’t as functional as we’d like them to be, I find it hard to believe that someone who buys an Apple Watch will stop using it so quickly while a Fitbit is easier to ditch (is this reasonable to believe?).I do agree that Fitbit is the clear market leader, but they really have to step up their game- the new Blaze and Alta are nice, but they’re not really huge improvements, more like older Fitbits repackaged to look prettier. Still looking for that killer feature that makes them indispensable.

  22. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I have a Here set. It’s not as useful as I thought it would be, but it’s also pretty amazing with what it can do. But it doesn’t do anything *critical* enough yet to make it something to use regularly.I also have a Fitbit, that I got for free, no less. I’ve stopped wearing it. I’m not a fitness fanatic but I liked the sleep tracking and step counting. The reason I stopped wearing it? It’s SO big that I struggle to get my jacket or sweatshirt off and on when I’m wearing it. That simple.Fitbit is popular because *fitness fanatics* will wear it, despite it’s drawbacks, because they value features highly enough. And it’s one helluva lot more affordable than an Apple watch.Wearables, I think, will catch on when: (i) the features are valued highly enough by most people to overcome the drawbacks (like what I’d hoped the Here buds would do – help my son filter out distracting sound and focus in school/doing homework), and (ii) they _look_ COOL. When they offer some concrete AR, that’s things will begin to take off.And, please let me know when the smart nosering arrives. I’m in, as long as it’s pretty!

    1. Yinka!

      Is the Here set comfortable to wear and do you wear it often? It looks huge and I wonder about possible longterm effects on the ear/one’s hearing either device because ENT docs say stuff like the largest thing one should insert into one’s ears = an elbow. I.e. preferably nothing, yet both the Here and Dash devices are inserts.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        🙂 The part that goes into your ear is actually just like the type of ear bud that you put *into* the ear canal (vs “Apple” style ones that just tuck into the outer ear ‘pocket’). So to me they’re pretty comfortable, but I haven’t tried wearing them for an extended period.The main thing, for me, is that they seem right now to be mostly for creating special effects on real-world sound. There is a setting for filtering out crowd noise, and it’s ok but not amazing.

        1. Yinka!

          I see. I’ve experienced discomfort after extended periods of wearing earplugs (soft foam ones), hence my skepticism about these insert style earphones. I’d love wireless earphones for daily use and wonder why no one’s made any that cover the entire ear (vs inserts), which eliminates potential harm/discomfort to the ear canal.

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            Me too. I do not like ear buds, generally and prefer headphones. Makes me wonder if we just need a female to design some ear buds ;-)I got the Here buds because my 8 yr old son has mild auditory processing issues, and I was curious if they’d be nice for short-term use for him (like, an hour a day or so). Haven’t actually tried them in that way yet, as they require an iphone or ipod to operate. It would be cool if they made headphones as an option.

  23. sigmaalgebra

    Widgets! Widgets will be the next big thing. Widgets will change everything. Widgets will have a huge impact on every aspect of life. For just one small source of impact, think of addressing climate change! And, then, new medicine, e.g., from CRISPR. Huge!Widgets have software, advanced hardware, and will be a must have for nearly all the 6 billion people on the planet now and for at least the rest of the century. We’re talking the Godzilla of network effects! And since Widgets are wearable, all the users are definitely “engaged” all the time, 24 x 7!Q. But, what does a widget do that I need done?A. Is that important?

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Importance is in the eyes of the beholder :-)My kid thinks he need a expensive boom-box in his truck to block out the music from his expensive stereo – go figure ?

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Well, gee, a pet wearable has to be better than a pet rock, and for a while pet rocks sold!

  24. @billg

    Has’t gone well for Apple? Really? Blame unrealistic expectations. Apple is close to being the world’s largest watch company in its first year in the category.

  25. Apple Lane Farm

    The bartender can vouch that I’m a techie (and rarely post) but my husband is a highly skilled “earth surgeon” meaning he runs heavy equipment. By choice he doesn’t not use email at all nor touch a computer. He has figured out how to use Amazon on my iPad. Here’s my point. He insisted on getting a Fitbit Charge HR and he LOVES it. Since it vibrates when his iPhone rings(in the bullet proof Otter case on his belt) he can keep his hands on the controls. Now his 76yo mother wants one.She too does not use a computer. Going out on a limb here but I’d guess that the category of folks like my husband and his mother far out number the fashion statement AW types.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      The point is that the Apple Watch over time will evolve to meet hundreds of these single requirement use-cases for people like your husband and mother in law.-Need a industrial/domestic safety/proximity monitor – good enough single use-case to purchase-Need complex selectablly-targeted sound-environment pre-processing to send to a flexible bluetooth hearing aid – good enough single use-case to purchase- Anything industrial/home/health/education/etc that needs monitoring/control local or distill will be a – good enough single use-case to purchase- Need a love making feedback sensor/communicator device – good enough single use-case to purchase – etc. . . etc. . . etc. . .Ultimately the Apple Watch is a computing/monitoring/control chameleon that will subsume FitBit like devices. Why buy a camera/music-player/audio-recorder when they have all been subsumed into a universal smartphone device?The Apple Watch by it inherent dependents on a presently evolving crop of sensor/actuator/interfaces/services required to augment its transparently convenient central utility will, because of these complex external confluences, experience a significantly slower market rise than previous computing platforms.Squeezing significant computing power with far more transparent interfaces onto our wrists is an order of magnitude tougher than squeezing it into a smartphone!Rome wasn’t built in a day and indeed it has taken Apple decades to amass the prerequisite tools/resources to even try on such a steep technical/marketing challenge.

      1. Lawrence Brass


    2. Yinka!

      Interesting; I wonder if Apple’s cognizant of this. That said, although it shifted to mainstream fashion advertising for the watch, it appears Apple is also waiting for AW’s real key user segment to emerge because the company itself doesn’t know.

  26. sigmaalgebra

    IBM’s Watson lab was working on “wearable computing” as early as 1990 or so.Gee, we follow the advice, “Be wise, generalize”.So, in addition to wearable, we could havethrowablestorabledisposableflushablekickableburnableediblewashableand we could have special cases of computers for use only in a car, in bed, in the kitchen, in the shower, during yard work, at the grocery store, at McDonald’s, at a pizza carryout, at a Chinese carryout, on the toilet, …!Q. But what does it DO that I need done?A. Is that important? No, no, wait, I just got it: These are all platforms and the third party developers will figure out what they do that people need to have done!

  27. Mario Cantin

    I think we’ll see the smart condom long before we see the smart nose ring.And hopefully it’ll still be disposable….

  28. Sandy

    I’ll bet anyone that there will be one dominant wrist device, when someone creates the Jobsian version.The Apple watch isn’t it. Jobs would pull out his hair aghast at the Apple name mudslung onto this watch. Forget Jobs mellowing with age, he’d lose it if he saw this.The Apple watch is like the Palm Treo. The Fitbit is like the Blackberry. Neither are the iPhone of wearables.Apple and Fitbit are dominant now, because of the clear and notable absence of any Jobsian wrist alternative.Personally, I’d love a beautiful Amazon Echo for the wrist.The main uses I want for a watch are voice (assistant or messaging), payment (wrist swipe is the only thing easier than a credit card), and as a modern real time health monitor.And I flat out will not consider it, unless it’s beautiful to the eye. That alone rules out every wrist device on the market to date.

  29. rimalovski

    I’ve read that analysts believe Apple sold 10.3 million units to date. This suggests that the Apple Watch has sold ~2x as many units as the iPhone did in its first year. Like other tech products the iPhone adoption curve was exactly what the technology lifecycle adoption curve would predict (see attached). If the Apple Watch follows the same path, it will be a success. I believe that in 5 years most people will be wearing smart watches of some sort though clearly the current Apple Watch doesn’t deliver what’s needed to mobilize that many people to open their wallets. However, few products are really the overnight successes we seem to recall. The iPhone wasn’t for sure.

  30. TeddyBeingTeddy

    Someone will come out with the Smart Pen1s Ring, and they’ll make a fortune. That solves a problem. “Like Viagra, without the unintended consequences.” – you heard it here first.

  31. Doug Gibbs

    Here is my thought. When, if ever will you buy the watch without a phone?The idea was to have the “phone” separate. Like a small iPhone without a display. No display means much better battery life. The “phone” part is really a bluetooth hub, with big storage capacity and the phone chipset and wifi. It goes to the head phones, watch, and other stuff you think is cool.The watch is the whole display. If you have a tablet, or desktop it can link up for a larger display, but what you carry in your pocket never comes out to play.It sounds cool, but I have a day job.

  32. cbohnert

    “I think wearables are more of a fashion item than computers and smartphones”… only if you assume wearables refers to a visible device. I think the true potential of wearable computing is when the device get so small or integrated that it becomes invisible.

  33. Craig Cramer

    What I find most interesting about this post and the comments are the strong opinions about something people haven’t tried. I have three sample groups for the AW: 1) Me – have worn it every day since it came out and love it. Useful and fun. Even with no further evolution, I’d continue to wear it. 2) Close friends and family who bought AW – 6 people. 5 of 6 wear it everyday. The one who doesn’t missed his fancy mechanical watches. He’s also the most tech savvy, apple fanatic of the group. 3) Broad customer sat surveys – either Wristly or ratings from Best Buy/Target. These seem about as positive as Apple could hope.I think part of the challenge – in perception, at least – is it may not be a device like desktop, laptop, phone, even tablets of ever expanding use cases. But, it doesn’t need to become a separate platform to be useful for me. The ten or so regular uses that are more convenient than using my phone is enough. The iphone anchoring is tough to go against. Even Apple got sucked into this in much of the AW marketing in Year 1. Let’s see how the device, category, and perceptions change over the next couple of years.

  34. Kevin Hill

    Full disclosure, I’m a data scientist for Pebble, though the following is my own take not necessarily the company’s.I think the real strength of wearables is understanding and providing feedback for human behavior. The is a much different take than the ‘app for everything’ approach that apple has done so well at. On the other side, Fitbit is great at measuring things, but hasn’t figured out the product level features that turn that data into effective feedback.I think failure to solve that problem broadly is the crux of why the market has been so fragmented. You see some devices like Lumo Lift hitting a very narrow behavior and having some moderate success, but in order to own the whole market, someone will have to deal with human behavior more generally.Obviously I hope it is us =)

  35. cavepainting

    I bought the apple watch when it was launched and have struggled to find value.The only bright spots are the following use cases.1. Asking Siri on the watch to set timers and calendar events. This is much faster and simpler than unlocking the phone and double clicking the home button to use Siri or using the clock app.2. Getting imessages when the phone’s battery has drained (while on wifi). This was a surprise !3. Using Apple Pay from the watch.Some enhancements can make a big difference, and make it independent and useful without the phone. But.. these are hard and can impact size and battery life.1. A cellular option,with the choice to use it as a mirror SIM or an independent SIM.2. GPS receiver. The current model of calculating steps is a poor substitute.3. A more powerful speaker and a smarter Siri with better voice recognition. This can possibly enable echo-type use cases.The question is whether the market for a non-tethered, always-on wearable is larger than the market for a fashion accessory that has to be tethered to the phone.

  36. dangen11

    I don’t like wearing jewelry nor watches- jingly, bulky, sweaty, flashy- a wearable must really be useful to me, for me to use it. So, I’ve worn this Mi Band about a month and half now, charged it once so far. I hate the sound of ringing phones so before the band, my Galaxy S4 was always on vibrate. I’d miss lots of notifications though, even when my S4 is nearby or in my pocket. Now, I never miss a notification – the Mi Band vibrates, S4 is always on silent. The band’s lightweight and water-resistant, I hardly notice I’m wearing it until it vibrates. Works great for me. Oh yeah, the step tracking and sleep monitor are also great.

  37. Jan Schultink

    In a few years we will wear our phone on our wrist and carry an optional 5″ screen/keyboard in our pocket when needed

  38. rkt88edmo

    This post makes me want to sneeze.

  39. Chimpwithcans

    The single biggest driver for AW adoption here in South Africa is the tie up with a health insurance company. Free Apple watch so long as you complete x no of work outs a week…..they’re all over the place now

  40. george

    Interesting points other than the nose ring – hope that never happens. It’s pretty early stages and if you look at how much overall watch market share Apple has eaten up, it’s pretty impressive $6-$10 billion estimated, against a total $25 Billion. I think Fashion+Function for Apple is a core competitive advantage, and we shouldn’t judge too early in the process. Ironically, people state the product is not a hit, but the competition is responding as though it is, most watch brands are going through layoffs and shaving future guidance – it’s on and they know it.

  41. Gaurav Shukla

    Haha funny you say that. I once sent you a pitch deck for smart nose ring. 😛

  42. Ed Rod

    If I were Apple, I’d figure out a way to put Amazon’s Echo / Alexa into the Apple Watch (using high end earbuds). Echo is a hit in your kitchen, imagine if you could take it everywhere with you. Yes, Siri, but Amazon appears to have found the magic formula. Or, they could wait for Amazon to introduce a watch. This plus upgrades common to any first gen product could make it take off if they want to stick to premium pricing.

  43. fredwilson

    I disagree. I guess I am not making myself clear. I will work on that

  44. kenberger

    Well said, Charlie. I too disagree with the Bartender on this one.I do agree with his parenthetical phrase “only one measure and maybe not the best one”.Also: “I think wearables are more of a fashion statement than computers and smartphones”– sure, they are *wearables*, by definition.

  45. Jess Bachman

    How much of that is simply because it’s Apple and the largest company in the world can understandably move some big numbers.

  46. andyswan

    Not going to argue with any of the points made… will say my low sales prediction was VERY low at the time it was made.Bottom line– consumers are not nearly as excited about AW as Wall St thought they would be. This is something we saw pre-release and have consistently seen throughout the product cycle in LikeFolio data.It is especially true when talking about USAGE indications rather than sales, which has to be concerning.Only Apple could have a “flop” that gets 50% market share and helps define an entire industry 🙂

  47. Lawrence Brass

    I have been using an AW for several months now and it is useful, naturally addictive and fun to program. Recently I had an unexpected experience: I was at the office and the phone linked to the AW was completely discharged, and the AW kept receiving messages because it was connected to the net through WiFi in “untethered mode”, that was the first time I saw it working.

  48. JoeK

    A horse with a cellphone glued to it is still a horse. I could choose to call it a smart horse, and insist on paying extra for the option of the horse being a racing thoroughbred, but for the people that simply need to get from a to b 20 feet away, while knowing how long it takes for them to get there, a donkey with a stopwatch glued to it is in the same category.

  49. PhilipSugar

    It depends how you define success. Reaching rich people: yes. Becoming as ubiquitous as a SmartPhone? No way. I wonder how many of your workers have one. I know they have a SmartPhone.

  50. kidmercury

    damn. some cold hard truth this monday morning. def siding with charlie in this beef no question.

  51. Sandy

    I continue to agree with Fred about the AW.The point is not market share by being the least bad. The point is that Jobs created products befitting of Apple’s name. Alas, the emotion and heart in Apple may be gone.When you used the early iPhones, you could palpably feel the earnest sincerity in the creators.You were stunned and moved by how extremely the creators must have toiled emotionally, to create such uncompromising elegance and cheeky playfulness, in hopes of making you happy. No button or sensor would ever be created that way by luck, or on the first 100 tries.The later iPhones and Samsungs lost that heart. Clearly they don’t give a shittake that there are multiple obvious annoyances now. Buy it or don’t.That’s how the AW feels to me. I won’t buy products when I feel apathy in them.

  52. Twain Twain

    Chip implant only? What about the plug-ports? Lol.I LOVE Apple but have no use for Apple Watch. Generally don’t wear things on wrist because it gets in way of coding & catches on keyboard.

  53. fredwilson

    sales matters less than usage. i know way more people that bought one and it is sitting somewhere collecting dust than people who bought it and continue to wear it

  54. PhilipSugar

    It depends on your definition of success. $2B in sales last year. That is mighty successful.Total game changer like the iPhone. Not so much.

  55. Lawrence Brass

    To know it you have to try it first, then it takes a few weeks until it becomes natural and invisible. It requires a bit of configuration to work properly, that rules out a few people. Be patient and try it.+ Well, that would be next year, on your 2017 Apple cycle 😉

  56. kenberger

    Not everyone agrees that usage matters more– but I certainly do agree with you on that.I think that the statistics for the second release of AW would be far more telling for this metric, especially if you literally mean people that you (or I) know. Naturally, that group is going to include lots of people with disposable income that will line up simply because the original launch was such a news item. Second release normalizes that effect a lot.

  57. LE

    Wearables will take time. Many of the things that I spent my time on in the 70’s as a kid are now mainstream because of price and technology changes made them more appealing to the masses as well as more useful.The iphone was a better phone so it didn’t have to create a market. Apple watch does. Different situation.In my mind the only question is will Apple lose interest and Newton it.

  58. LE

    That is like super unscientific. [1] [2][1] I don’t know many people that watch sports .. I wonder why.[2] That doesn’t mean you are wrong I will admit.

  59. Bernard Desarnauts

    Probably only self selection bias. We have measured repeatedly since last summer a heavy negative / quantified bias by “tech insiders” for AW – mainstream consumers have 94% sat rate vs 88 for Insiders and most importantly 93% wear it all day on most days. And our N is >1,000

  60. Tommy Chen

    Same could be said about Fitbit. They are selling a ton of them but they’re infrequently used even by their active users.

  61. kenberger

    Maybe 1 point written here where the clarity might be missing is that you pointed out what you see as failings of AW but saying that Fitbit is doing so well. OK, but Fitbit is basically a watch, at least *I* would consider it one. So this points to at least some success of the category, and I think we are debating potential for the category, not just the AW.I have no reason to defend the AW specifically– it’s not a product for me. I do really like the Huawei Watch I’m now wearing, although i’m obviously a super early adopter and know that total sales figures will be almost insignificant for this model.As you are clearly pointing out, the category is and probably will stay fragmented, rather than the 2-horse race that its master (the smartphone) has become. Maybe this ultimately limits total smartwatch growth, maybe it enhances it. If AW isn’t a huge hit ever, a la iPhone, it might not matter.

  62. PhilipSugar

    Run that chart with Foursquare and Swarm.

  63. Elia Freedman

    Strikes me that Wall Street’s overly high consumer demand expectation is Wall Street’s problem, not Apple’s.

  64. SubstrateUndertow

    The product by virtue of its complex/excremental/evolutionary requirements to jam enough serious general purpose computing power into a watch all while simultaneously evolving and inculcating a whole new paradigm of intimately transparent interface memes around an as-of-yet undefined set of yet-to-be imagined/delivered sensors/actuator/use-cases a-priori constrains the Apple Watch to a slow burn market entry unlike any previous Apple PLATFORM.This is by its very nature a hard multi-variant nut to crack even for Apple!I think this is well understood by Apple. They know they are one of a very few companies that has the cash, vision, technology and branding required to meet such a risky slow-burn market entry product-evolution challenge. Apple is betting that such risks/challenges come with the requisite long term product/services moat.Rome wasn’t built in a day!I hear Fred sounding very iIBM-ish”I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.”

  65. Lawrence Brass

    That is the real problem.I guess this will repeat when the Apple Car is ready.

  66. andyswan

    Agree completely. That’s why Wall St is our client, not Apple

  67. kenberger

    I learned a long time ago, I think it was in high school debate class or something, never to use the word “wrong” or “disagree”, no matter how strong you think your argument is or how weak you think the other side’s is. (I messed up here, by using the d word in my comment above).Those words just turn up heat unnecessarily and incite the other side to defend with more voracity.

  68. LE

    Agree with that. The only issue I have with the watch is that it’s a pain to put it on since there is no stretch band available. So the friction there is an issue. Also that I have to punch in my code each time I put it on or if it’s no on me. That is easily fixable (as the band is) I expect that to improve greatly.The other things that people aren’t thinking about is that it’s also possible that Apple is retarding the product (and sales) in order to learn from v1 prior to disappointing to many people from trying a v2. Although that sounds almost impossible I don’t think it is strategically.

  69. LE

    All the press (and the analysts) had to say was that Marilyn was found in the nude.I am so fucking sick of the media (press, bloggers and what not) rating and criticizing everything according to exceeding or not meeting expectations. As if that isn’t something that can and is gamed.Remind me of back in the day when I would (have to) hold off sales at the end of the year to get a jump on next years sales so if I had to borrow money from the bank (which they did back then – they lent money) they would see sales increase and think all was well. [1]…[1] Not something that I was taught in college either just something that made intuitive sense by understanding human nature.

  70. PhilipSugar

    You know I’m a big believer in wearables. I agree they will take time.The iPhone ended up creating a different market a Smart BUT you are right it did have one thing you needed to have: A phone.The watch does not have a feature you need to have.

  71. LE

    Agree. But keep in mind that nobody in small business needed a computer when they first came out until killer apps were created. [1] [2][1] I will agree that’s a weak counter point of mine but a counter point no less. [2] Otoh there were those of us that like “playing” them without any particular need other than that they were fun.

  72. PhilipSugar

    Unscientific is sometimes good sometimes bad. You have to be really careful when you say: People like me (unless you know a really broad section of people like I do). I forget the Wharton professor that pounded that into me. He would ask questions like: How many of us had been on a plane, etc. Then he would show us what the population did.What I would unscientifically point out is that I don’t see people like plumbers, electricians, wearing one. Much less Walmart employees. None. But every single one has a Smartphone that they use too much, and they got them very fast.So again it is a measure of success. If you are saying its going to be as ubiquitous as a Smartphone where people almost see it as a basic right then nope not a success.

  73. LE

    But every single one has a Smartphone that they use too much, and they got them very fast.I don’t know if I agree with “they got them fast”. That actually (for that cohort of people) took some time.For example all kids have iphones now (or unscientifically the ones that I see). But back when the iphone came out I asked my daughters (who were 15 and 12 at the time (hope my math is right)) if they wanted one and they had zero interest (none of their friends had them). That took a few years and things changed a bit, right? The v1 iphone was a great product but compared to 6s there is no comparison.

  74. LE

    No money left over after buying cigarettes or lottery tickets I guess. [1][1] Yeah I know that’s a terrible thing to say but quite honestly the vice tax is really interesting to me.

  75. PhilipSugar

    What is the definition of mainstream consumer? Is it a plumber or a warehouse worker?

  76. sigmaalgebra

    Cruel! SO cruel! HOW could you be so CRUEL?

  77. Bernard Desarnauts

    Good ? In our definition it’s everybody who’s not working building/marketing a mobile/watch app

  78. PhilipSugar

    Appreciate the optimism. But as a business owner of a 100 person firm who had his rates raised by $500k because an employees wife was sick with twins during a pregnancy and my rates increased by 20% when I hired somebody who had Hodgkins. I do not share your optimism. I would sue if I had to wear a tracking device to get a “discount”. Which really meant pay the higher rate

  79. SubstrateUndertow

    What far reaching vision 🙂

  80. PhilipSugar

    Pew says 13% of smartphone users in the US make less than $30k. That is mainstream

  81. PhilipSugar

    That is being watched like a felon. His truck says where he is and how fast he drivesThat is not his. He must hate it

  82. Douglas Crets

    This may be true. I see a lot of what you are saying. Fitbit is not a high performance luxury brand timepiece or wearable. It’s an “off the shelf” fitness knowledge device. AW is many more things. And people don’t buy Apple anything in order to enjoy what it does. They buy it to show other people that they have the money to buy it. That’s really what it boils down to. Fitbit is like the Android of exercise.

  83. Matt Zagaja

    The watch should unlock without your code when you unlock your iPhone.

  84. Matt Zagaja

    Even more fun when you get bluetooth earbuds which can connect to the unit and work without need for the phone when you go for a run or are working out.

  85. Lawrence Brass

    I think that for a first version it is remarkably good.The fitness software is still immature and a bit dull as you mention. If the daily active calorie counts the watch computes for me were true I would be actually like Jabba the Hutt or I am burning calories at idle like a V8. The good thing is that software can be replaced.

  86. Lawrence Brass

    Bluetooth earbuds should be one of 2016 Apple ‘innovations’ for the iPhone 7, I wonder where they will put the microphone and the mute/volume control.

  87. Sandy

    Very true. I myself never cared about the Jobs cult, because everyone always said what a huge part his team played.Everyone always said Jobs took too much credit for other people’s work.So after Jobs passed, I waited for his team to shine.What a total crock. What everyone always said about Jobs and his team was dead wrong.In reality, no Jobs, no Apple.The Jobs cult was justified all along. It really was Jobs after all.

  88. Tommy Chen…The Verge notes that only half of their register users are active. And they way they count active users implies that not many are really active.

  89. PhilipSugar

    I agree with both of you. Big product. Not the next smartphone

  90. Bernard Desarnauts

    we do not have individual income only household.