The Six-month Itch
Is the thrill gone?
Apple Watch Study Part 3: 6 Months
For this round of findings we’ve surveyed our panel twice. We forced them to go one week without wearing their watches, detail what they discovered, and then we conducted on-camera interviews. After half a year, reality has set in among our Apple Watch users. Like the seven-year itch within relationships, a six-month itch seems to be attached to the watch, and our panel members have become a bit stuck.
INTERVIEWS (WHAT THEY SAID)
From Love to Like
Overall, our panel members continue to like the watch. A few are happy with it; a few are indifferent; many have lost that loving feeling. Most view it as a watch that does some cool tricks. Expectations have become more realistic, and although some panel members are underwhelmed, few are completely disappointed.
- The watch is one of several devices in our panel members’ daily lives.
- Compared to other Apple devices, the watch is nonessential.
- Unsure of when it will improve, users default to the obvious: it’s a watch.
Sour Notes Continue
The watch has limitations. It has finite features, its design is less than ideal, and it could be faster and more user friendly. Gripes abound, especially among millennials.
- A major limitation is the watch is an appendage to the iPhone.
- It is constantly compared to the iPhone and generally fares poorly.
- There are doubts about the watch’s usefulness and significance as a game-changing wearable.
The watch appears to have an increasingly narrow cast for our panel members. Most use it mainly for one specific function—notifications, the activity monitor, or answering texts and calls. The idea of wearing the watch some of the time (3–5 days per week) also seems to be growing in popularity. Users are finding it agreeable as a part-time accessory.
- Participants feel constrained with the watch until significant updates; users are withdrawing.
- This appears more situational than a long-term statement about the watch.
Most of our Apple users admit they don’t use Siri regularly. For a device that relies on voice recognition for many of its functions, Siri appears to have quite a bit of trouble recognizing names and following simple commands.
- Core functions must work better or more easily.
- Siri is the biggest of many issues around responsiveness that frustrate users and create unnecessary friction.
Still Sweet on Apple
Even among those who are underwhelmed with the watch today, feelings toward the watch and Apple remain positive and optimistic. Although most of our panel members believe that the watch has a long way to go, they are confident that it will eventually improve.
- Surprisingly, Apple has been hands off with users regarding their most intimate device
- Little follow-up, communication, or information results in less enthusiasm for Apple’s new product.
CONCLUSIONS (WHAT IT MEANS)
After six months with the Apple Watch, we see some notable changes in the behaviors, attitudes, and opinions of our panel members.
- As the novelty of the watch wears off, users have become more settled in their ways. This is one device of many for them, not as essential as their phones, and unclear in terms of what they should use it for.
- Its reliance on the iPhone makes it harder to see the watch as significant or independent and limits how people feel about it and use it.
- The watch is being occasionalized. It’s used less and for less.
- Some expected to see significant improvements by the six-month mark, but with a disappointing watchOS update and an App Store that continues to offer very little in the way of third-party apps, many are now looking to the next version of the Apple Watch for these improvements.
- The watch needs to do a better job of meeting the needs of its users, Siri is buggy, features are clunky, and usability is confusing.
- The marketplace has not caught up to what the watch can offer, making it less useful. When travel and retail brands operationalize what was promised, these features may be of real value versus today’s reality.
- Perhaps most interesting of all is the role of Apple. Although it is highly esteemed, we wonder why it’s been so absent from watch users’ lives–no check-ins, update messages, surveys, or dialogue. Users have been left on their own and feel isolated.