Why the Apple Watch is a complete iFlop – Tomi Ahonen

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Finally, speculation has been put to rest after the launch on the long-awaited Apple Watch this week. It may have been overdue for the Cupertino-based company to release wearable tech, but Apple fans will still appreciate that it’s now a reality. The question to ask, however, is whether or not the Apple Watch is a game-changer?

According to mobile industry expert Tomi Ahonen the answer is no, not even slightly.

Ahonen’s bold statement was made yesterday at the Mobile Web Africa (MWA) conference in Braamfontein, where he is a speaker.

“The Steve jobs magic is gone,” Ahonen said. “The iFlop, sorry, the iWatch aka Apple Watch is a rerun. The only reason it will sell massively for a certain time is because of iSheep,” referring to consumers who buy into Apple products just because it’s the latest thing. (Or should we say iThing?)

“Mobile phone watches, aka ‘Dick Tracy’ style watches with phones in them and then even videophones, have been around for more than a decade. They pop up as newsworthy geeky items every few years usually from Japan. And they have rapidly died in the market place,”

Two major reasons for the impending iFlop Ahonen goes on to mention on his blog, are affordability and the fact that a lot of the features found on smartwatches are easily accessible on smartphones.

“The total global population who can afford buying a smart watch already has a mobile phone and for all practical purposes they all now have a smartphone already.”

“Smartphone ownership skews very strongly by affluence, in any country, the richest get smartphones before the poorest, so out of the 2.14 billion middle class or wealthy humans, it’s the very lowest end, those earning about 10 or 11 dollars per day, who today still have a feature phone rather than smartphone,” Ahonen adds.

“Those will not be buying any smart watch before they have upgraded their basic phone to a smartphone. So that is the market. That is the direct competition for the Apple Watch. Only half of us have a wristwatch to compare to, but almost all of us have a smartphone already.”

Another bold statement Ahonen made at MWA was that the geeky, creepy-looking Google Glass actually has more potential in the market than smartwatches do because augmented reality (AR) will be the next big thing in mass media consumption after the smartphone, not smartwatches.

“AR is the most magical technology,” Ahonen said. “As a side note, when the iFlop numbers are reported about a year from now and the new editions won’t match the past sales, this will be seen as a danger sign for Apple that the Steve Jobs magic is gone and this will be seen as Tim Cook’s blunder,” Ahonen concludes.

You can read more on Ahonen’s reasoning and predictions on Communities Dominate Brands, or watch his TEDxMongKok talk on why AR is the next big tech thing here.

[Image – Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory]