News & Analysis

Can the development of device-specific apps revive sales of the Apple Watch?

- July 8, 2015 3 MIN READ

It may have been one of the most eagerly awaited products of the last few years, but a few months after it launched to much fanfare, the Apple Watch has seen a steep decline in sales.

Californian analytics firm Slice Intelligence has trawled through online shopping receipts in over 2.5 million inboxes in the US to find that Apple has been selling less than 20,000 watches a day since June, some days selling less than 10,000. Over 1.5 million watches were sold the week of the launch in April 10.

Slice also found that two thirds of the watches sold so far have been the cheaper Sport model, the price of which starts at USD$349, rather than the more expensive metal-band models which start at USD$549. Less than 2,000 of the Gold edition watches, which cost a minimum of USD$10,000, have been sold.

The somewhat dismal sales figures haven’t come as a surprise; Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, told Re/code’s Walt Mossberg in June that the company had sold “a lot, but not enough” watches. What’s more, Apple usually updates investors on sales figures soon after a product launch, but has not yet done so for the Apple Watch.

Some analysts are looking at the performance of the Watch as a reflection of Apple’s overall performance: Marketwatch writes that with the watch the first completely new product launched since the death of Steve Jobs, how well it does may be used as a measure of “how well Apple may be able to maintain the standards of excellence in innovation, marketing and production it achieved under Jobs.”

Indeed, the launch of the iPhone was revolutionary. As acknowledged in a previous article on Startup Daily, though the iPhone was not the first touchscreen phone or phone featuring apps, it was the first phone with an operating system as advanced as its desktop counterpart, and was also the first phone with multi-touch display. All those gestures (e.g. flicking, swiping, scrolling, pinching, etc.) that we’ve become accustomed to when using our smartphones is a result of Apple reimagining the way a user would interact with their mobile phone. In addition, apps developed for the phone have now become part of our every day lives. A smartwatch? From Sony to Samsung to LG, it had been done before, and Apple’s iteration didn’t do much to improve on or innovate those other models; as such, the watch is still a device for techies rather than a must-have for the average consumer.

No Australian sales figures for the watch are available, though it was estimated that 300,000 watches were being sent to Australia in the first shipment back in April.

Local Apple stores haven’t seen the usual huge crowds that usually accompany a new product launch, as watches can’t be bought directly in store – until late June, consumers could schedule a try on appointment in store, and then order a watch online to be delivered to their door. According to Gizmodo, Apple recently launched Reserve and Pick Up, where buyers could order a watch online and then go pick it up in store.

Despite the declining sales, companies are seeing the potential for cool watch apps: design firm T3 came up with the idea for a ‘hands-free’ Tinder app that monitors a user’s heart rate to see whether they think someone is hot or not and, in turn, swipe left or right for them.

Rather than simply being a smaller version of our phones, the success of the Apple Watch may rely on the apps that are created specifically for that device.

Image: Jeff Williams. Source: Re/code