May 15

Apple Watch analysis run amok

After reading thousands of articles about Apple over the years, I’ve come to believe there are two kinds of Apple analysts in this world:

Those who have the intelligence and insight to offer up an interesting opinion based on some concrete evidence. And those who probably don’t even understand the preceding sentence.

See if you can figure out where this one fits.

I submit the sad case of Douglas A. McIntyre, co-editor of a site called 24/7 Wall St, which produces content for MarketWatch, Time, Yahoo! Finance, TheStreet.com and others.

Now, one would think that a person running a website devoted to business news might know a thing or two about business. But … never leap to conclusions.

Recently, Douglas wrote an article entitled, “Why does Apple bother to advertise its watch?” By headline alone, I assumed he was questioning the wisdom of advertising a product that will be sold out for many months to come.

But no — Douglas smells a fish. And he’s ready to lay it on the line.

At the top of the front page of WSJ.com is an ad, and a large one, for Apple Inc.’s new watch. Why advertise at all, if Apple Watch sales are wildly successful? Maybe the ads are a sign that they are not.

Ah, right. I’m sure this is true. Just as Apple’s massive advertising campaigns for every new model of iPod, iPhone and iPad were an indication of disappointing sales.

The Apple Watch ads say “Learn More.” For a product with such a widely scrutinized launch, and with the new product so widely dissected, why bother to “Learn More” at all?

Precisely! What could a “Learn More” link possibly mean other than “Sales are sputtering.” Why didn’t we catch that?

Apple Watch does what other watches do. It keeps time, precisely. It tells what time it is within 50 milliseconds of what Apple calls the “definitive global standard of time.” It is a feature that will be lost on most people who want to know if it is early or late within five minutes of most other peoples’ clocks.

Damn you, Apple, for creating a product that tells time accurately. Especially when you blatantly peddle it as a “watch.” Your techno-mumbo-jumbo is not welcome here!

Beyond that, Apple Watch tracks messages and fitness. Many experts think that these and other features of the watch are not enough to allow it to break through as a mainstream product.

If only Jony Ive and team had consulted with “many experts,” Apple wouldn’t be dealing with this debacle today.

A point of proof that Apple Watch is not unique enough to capture the market are the IPO plans of smartwatch company FitBit. This point has been made over and over by the press and Wall Street.

At last, a point of proof! Uh, what’s that proof again? Douglas might want to Google “FitBit IPO Apple Watch.” What comes up is a long list of articles along the line of Apple Watch looms over FitBit IPO and FitBit worries about Apple Watch as it goes for $100m IPO. A point made over and over, indeed.

Another way to look at the watch is that Apple management does not see its success as key to the company’s future. iPhone sales make up more of Apple’s revenue. … Apple Watch, then, does not matter in the scheme of things that will make Apple’s future bright.

Like a sideshow magician, Apple again tries to divert our attention. All this effort for something that hardly matters in the scheme of things. We will not be fooled!

If Apple Watch is not part of what will make Apple’s future bright, why spend millions, or tens of millions, to advertise it? Apple will not tell, so any opinion is no better than a guess.

Perplexing. Mysterious. Inexplicable. Why on earth would Apple spend all this money to break into a new category? Didn’t they learn their lesson with iPod, iPhone and iPad? As a shareholder, I’m outraged.

Good grief.

When the obvious becomes too obvious, there will always be a Douglas who fails to see it.

Surely with this kind of insight, 24/7 Wall St deserves more than its current 194K Twitter followers. Ordinarily, I’d suggest that they run a few ads to attract a bigger crowd. But then, running ads would only be a sign of weakness.

  • Jules Hobbes

    Sounds like the Macalope …

  • Samanjj

    Yes it does. Does that mean ken is the lope? I always thought gruber

  • isitjustme

    Douglas A. McIntyre has always been anti Apple and stopped reading his sh*t years ago.

  • Michael

    Ken, I read your book and follow your blog enjoying dissections of other “contributions” like this one, but I’m still curious about *your* opinion on Apple’s advertising for the watch. It’s obviously different to previous products, so your take on it would be enlightening — especially when other articles are so disappointing. What do you think about the watch campaign?

  • Neither. Ken is too busy and Gruber doesn’t have the Macalope’s sense of humour. :)

  • Peter

    I agree, with this, and @machobbes:disqus comment. Apart from a few typos Ken, this felt more like a macalope article, and I was more looking for your take on the promotion of the Watch..

  • ksegall

    Actually, the first ad for Apple Watch wasn’t really different from past efforts. Like the first iPhone and iPad ads, “The Watch Reimagined” was mostly a series of watch screens that showed off the many things that the Watch can do — with the addition of some beauty shots that communicated the fashion part of the device.

    When a brand-new product is launched, this type of ad works really well. And I liked this first ad very much, because it did a great job of generating some Apple lust.

    But I’m sure you’re talking about the three lifestyle ads that followed. These ads have done little to change my feeling about Apple advertising in general over the past few years. They’re beautifully shot and produced, but very soft. Clearly they’re aimed at the mainstream market, which of course makes sense, since Apple is now a mainstream company. Each shows a montage of people using the watch in different locations and situations, and they drip with humanity. I can easily see why some people would think these ads are terrific.

    That said, these aren’t the type of ads that make you go “wow” and rave to all your friends. That’s what I keep missing in the new Apple. That, to me, is the Apple tradition of great advertising.

    You have to understand that without Steve Jobs, Apple’s process for creating ads has changed dramatically. There are a lot more people involved and the ads are held up to a different kind of scrutiny. I think that’s why they end up feeling like soft “big company” ads. It doesn’t feel like there’s much of an appetite for taking risks with the advertising.

    It’s a shame, because when you’re sitting on top of the world, firing on all cylinders, and your new product is getting millions of dollars’ worth of PR and buzz in mainstream media, the blogosphere and social media — that’s exactly the time when you CAN take risks, and try new things.

    That’s my opinion, for what it’s worth.

  • ksegall

    Typos? What typos! I run a clean ship here! (At least I try.)

  • ksegall

    The Macalope is the gold standard. I was just aiming for the silver. I’ve done this a number times over the years when I am feeling particularly incensed.

    Like that Shawn King guy. He really gets under my skin :)

  • Michael

    Thanks Ken for taking the time. Taking risks is truly the hardest thing to do, and I’m wondering if it’s easier when there’s only one person deciding or a group. A pyramid organization may be better prepared to make risky decisions based on one’s gut feeling and then delegating the execution down the ranks. Still depends on the person though.

  • ksegall

    What made Apple unique as a marketer was having a CEO who (a) had a true passion for marketing, and (b) had really good taste. When I worked on the business, there were countless times when Steve acted on his gut instinct, and vetoed his own marketing people’s opinions.

    I think you are correct that when decisions are left to a group, or made to go through an approvals process, people get very nervous about making mistakes, so their decisions become more conservative.

  • Suck it up, Princess. :)

  • Peter

    :) “Recently, Douglas write an article entitled” should probably be “Recently, Douglas wrote an article entitled”

    I couldn’t find the others. Great to read your other comments above.

  • ksegall

    Ah, that one. Not sure how that slipped through my defenses. Thanks for pointing it out. Fixed.

  • darlaj

    I think Ken is more annoyed by McIntyre’s staggeringly misguided thoughts about advertising than his fairly ordinary Apple=doomed rhetoric.

  • Samanjj

    I think we need to dig deeper. Ken ran that fake apple news site for a while and perhaps I am reading into it but gruber seems to have dry wit.

  • ksegall

    For a while? I protest! Scoopertino.com is alive and well, now with over five million visits! Far more than this meager site…

  • Which fake web site are you referring to? It’s hard to tell sometimes. :)

    And I know both Gruber and The Macalope personally. They are not one and the same. :)

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  • Doug Trace

    On behalf of all Douglas’s in the world, may I offer my most sincere apologies. I will contact this halfwit post haste and inform him that he’s out of the club and must also incur an immediate name change.
    Possible name suggestion: Hugh Jass.

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  • hannahjs

    Apple’s marketing of the Watch extends into haute couture, emphasising its wearable nature through product placement right on the skin of beautiful people. That’s different!

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  • Samanjj

    Ken and Shawn. you are both right. Macalope wrote about the same article but after ken. http://www.macworld.com/article/2926335/leading-indicators-ads-must-mean-a-product-is-tanking.html

  • Samanjj

    Agreed. They should be more Beatles and less Cold Play

  • Samanjj

    I loved scoopertino and I will add it to my favourites to make sure to visit regularly. I still remember vividly when you guys wrote about how the apple stores will be converted to temples to Steve jobs and people wrote passionate comments saying apple had gone too far! O boy

  • Apple’s damned when it does, damned when it doesn’t. Twas always thus.

  • mo

    عميلنا العزيز لا تتردد فى الاتصال بنا على ارقامنا الاتية
    شركة دليل المنزل تهتم

    نقل اث
    اث و
    نقل عفش
    وجلى البلاط وكشف
    تسربات المياه
    و كشف تسربات

     والترميمات وعزل
     للأسطح والخزانات وحمامات السباحة وتستخدم الشركة اساليب متطورة من عملية
    تطوير الذات و تحسين الكفاءة لتقدم خدمة كاملة الي عملائها و تحصل على اكبر قدر من
    التميز بافضل جودة وافضل اسعار لاشك ان المنافسة قوية ولكن توجد فرصة كبيرة للتميز
     سنصلك اينما كنت فنحن نعمل على مدار الاسبوع . نحن الأفضل للأننا نخدم الافضل .
    تعتبر دليل المنزل افضل شركة لكشف تسربات
    المياه بالرياض
    و افضل شركة نقل اثاث
    ومتخصصون في كشف تسربات المياه
    في الرياض
    و مكافحة حشرات

  • George3C

    I love the sarcasm. What is this airhead (Douglas) doing beside wondering what the latest Apple failure will be? Does he just make things up? Must be. I think he is way overpaid. His editor should keep an eye on him.