An Entirely New Kind of Intimate
The Emotions and Behaviors of Real Apple Watch Users
Apple Watch Study Part 1: 1 Week
We gave 11 Apple Watches to 11 people, ages 13 to 65, with wide-ranging technical prowess, experience and affinity for Apple and the Apple Watch. For one week, our 11 respondents participated in a daily diary, where they answered a series of questions. They were also filmed using their watches and discussing the experience three times over seven days.
This same group will continue to use their Apple Watches and provide additional feedback and insights after one month, one quarter and one year. What emerged after the initial seven days was a series of insights about the emotional and behavioral aspects of the watch.
The revelation is that the Apple Watch experience is intimate in a way no other device is. The connection people have with their Apple Watches is physical — it is literally on you and uses haptic feedback to touch you — but the device is so much more. It also notifies you, talks to you, listens to you, takes dictation, responds to you, reads you, understands you and takes care of you.
Apple Watch has the potential to open totally new ground in the relationship between people and technology, and we’re seeing the initial stages of it. With the watch, technology is further shifting from something we use to something that is part of us and that enhances us.
KEY THEMES: EMOTIONAL
Joy, magic, wonder, happiness and frustration were the emotional anchors that were revealed in varying degrees by our 11 participants. Over the course of one week, emotions ran the gamut, although seemed to end where they started: with happiness.
1. The Watch is Magic
The Apple Watch generates true joy among its users. From delight in first opening the box to smiling widely about certain features, design elements and the surprising discovery about the things the watch can do, Apple Watch is a home run, delivering happiness in myriad ways. The fact that the watch is fundamentally new and different provides a true sense of wonder. It goes far beyond just satisfaction.
2. Happiness Overcomes Frustration
It’s not news that the Apple Watch has some bugs and kinks to work out. Every user found a number of things to dislike or find frustrating about the watch. And yet, they are all happy with it. The degree of happiness varies, but it’s there. We asked our participants how happy they were after one-two weeks of wearing their Apple Watches, and the average was an 8 rating on a scale of 1 to 10. Pretty respectable. We also asked them how frustrated they were with their Apple Watches, and the scores averaged a respectable 3 rating on the 10-point scale (where 10 meant completely frustrated).
What is most interesting is that even the users who are least happy and most frustrated with the Apple Watch trust Apple to fix the issues. So, even the most jaded users fully expect the bugs to be fixed and the Apple Watch to improve as time goes on.
3. Sour Notes
While our users expressed overall satisfaction with their watches, during the week, they had their issues. For several, the watch is unresolved. Clearly, it’s in its infancy, or, as one of our participants noted, a “beta” test. For some, this can be exciting, but for others, it is just agitating. The watch can also be disorienting to learn and master, given it works quite different from the iPhone. Many of our respondents struggled initially to figure it out. Lastly, the lack of a cohesive app ecosystem annoyed most of our panel at one point or another.
KEY THEMES: BEHAVIORAL
Although dependent on the phone, Apple Watch is changing users’ behaviors and making their phones less essential. Additionally, the uniquely intimate nature of the watch, demonstrated in part by reminding people to stand and using taps to alert them, is also changing what people do during the day and how they behave.
4. Dependent on Yet Replacing the iPhone (Watch vs. Phone)
Our 11 Apple Watch respondents are using their iPhones less. The Apple Watch enables people to feel connected to what is going on quickly, allowing them to remain more focused on the tasks at hand. People feel the watch is less distracting than the phone and feel freed from their phones and the amount of time it consumes. Our users continued their “checking” behavior, however, and transferred it from watch to phone fairly easily. Most checked their watches — for notifications, time, weather, etc., or used them with various apps — fairly frequently throughout the day. Over the course of the week, the 11 participants checked their watches an average of every 10 minutes on Day 1. This was cut back to every 20 minutes by midweek, which leveled off to 2.5 times per hour by the end of the week. However, some people checked their watches constantly throughout the week.
5. Master and Servant (An Entirely New Kind of Intimate)
The relationship between watch and user is an interesting and complex one. Everyone seems to either like or love the notifications for texts and emails, and especially the reminders by the Apple Watch to stand up and walk around. To an outsider, it appears that users like to be told what to do. But users tend to feel so busy and absorbed in what they are doing that they appreciate the reminders. Conversely, the watch listens to you, answers your questions and adjusts to your behaviors. The watch can act as both your boss and your slave.
6. The Age Factor
It’s clear from our respondents, (ranging in age from 13 to 65), that the way people learn and experience the Apple Watch varies. The young learn quickly, almost intuitively, and are enthusiastic and positive. Older users may require more time to understand the watch’s functionality, but they get there. The other key observation is that younger participants are more social in how they use the watch, focusing on sending emojis and texts, and calling their friends. Older users are more interested in enablement, checking the weather and time, and getting key notifications.
When a new paradigm emerges or something innovative manifests, it is interesting to see how it fits within the larger ecosystem. In this case, understanding the role of the Apple Watch relative to the iPhone seems particularly valuable. It is clear the watch is, Apple’s most intimate device, and delivers most effectively across all four documented forms of intimacy.