Apple Watch Isn't Good Enough (that's Great News) and Overlooked Jobs

Christensen says products first become good enough on functionality and reliability and then become good enough on accessibility/convenience, ease of use, affordability, and customization. See Concepts page and discussion of Clayton Christensen. Unlike with many other tangible products, aesthetics and status communication assume core functional roles with jewelry and other luxury items like expensive cars, handbags, and clothes. For this reason any aesthetic/appearance problems with the Apple Watch amount to an important functional issue rather than something more superficial.

A lot of people are looking at the Watch and saying "it's not good enough" because of a range of issues related to functionality/reliability: battery life too short, watch too thick or clunky looking, too tethered to the iPhone, not enough health sensors, etc.

The irony is that these shortcomings should be good news for the Watch's future. That's because under disruption theory, when a product isn't good enough on a range of performance dimensions, then the vendor has lots of things to improve -- through new product versions -- before the product starts overserving. See Concepts page and discussion of Clayton Christensen. This means there's lots of room for Apple -- as an integrated manufacturer -- to making sustaining leaps ahead of more modular smartwatch competitors relying on Android. See post titled Apple's Long Term AdvantagesApple has plenty of room to improve the user experience and move up the improvement trajectory without overserving.

And Apple doesn't need huge Watch sales right up front. The large margins implicit in the Watch should allow Apple to generate early profits and then slowly grow sales and profits over time. This is consistent with Christensen's recommendation that companies pursuing new market disruption be impatient for profits and patient for sales growth. See post titled New Markets and Early Profits.

Overlooked Jobs-to-be-Done

The inherent filters provided by the Apple Watch (small screen, having to lift up arm, etc.) and the convenience of having your most important information on your wrist should help users:

  1. quickly/automatically funnel down to their most important information/tasks; and
  2. quickly/discreetly check their most important information in a polite, non-intrusive way.

These two benefits help the Watch accomplish two important, possibly overlooked jobs:

  1. helping users stay focused/productive and thereby saving them time (less time spent checking/rechecking an iPhone and going on iPhone app/browsing detours);
  2. improving human interaction by allowing users to discreetly/efficiently multitask without being rude to people they're interacting with.

The irony of the Watch is that it promotes less screen time and more human interaction, a worthwhile goal in a world of 24/7 technology.

The author owns stock shares of Apple.