Article: Controlling the Watch Narrative

by on April 22, 2015

Over the weekend, I finally got around to heading to my local Apple Store for an Apple Watch try-on appointment. Being on the fence if I’m even going to get an Apple Watch, I was more curious about seeing the product in person, checking out the software, and seeing how the appointment process takes place.

The day before, I made my appointment and sometimes-my-podcast-cohost Lindsey McElroy picked the same time, so we’d both get to check it out at the same time. Upon arriving, we were checked in much like any other Apple Store transaction and were instructed to stick around until someone was available to help each of us. I went over and played with a display Watch, seeing the OS in action and figuring out what sort of learning curve I’d be facing if I did purchase one. It certainly is different than iOS, which I found fighting my muscle memory, but I suspect I’d adapt pretty quickly. Still, it’s impressive how much technology is packed into such a small device.

Lindsey was brought over a few minutes before me, but we both wound up at the same table, but on opposite sides. The employee who was working with me was great—patient, seemed to know the product, and I didn’t get the feeling that he wanted to rush me out of there for the next appointment, as I often feel with other Apple Store-related activities. Since I did my homework and favorited a few models, he suggested we start with those, especially in determining if I’d be more suited for the 38mm or 42mm model.

After checking the sizes, I didn’t quite know which size was better for me, but I did know that the S/M band on the 38mm Sport model was too small. First, I tried on white Sport band, and found it to be excellent in feel and fit. The best analogy to its feel is like a less-tacky iPhone 6 Silicone Case. It was surprisingly comfortable and pleasant, and I could see myself using this as my regular band without hesitation or complaint. The black one, while a little unconventional, would not necessarily be out of place with a suit or nice dress shirt, although some might prefer something a bit classier. I also tried on the Milanese Loop and was pleased with the feel of craftsmanship and overall design, although I’m not sure that I would be ready to spend $150 for one at this point. The same goes for the last band I tried on, the Link Bracelet. It was impressive how much was considered in the design, and I’m sure there will be knockoffs—especially the easily-removed links.

The whole interaction felt less like a sales pitch and more like a friend who was showing you their new gadget that they were really excited about. The prevalent tone was that this was about Apple educating me about the product and simply having a conversation about it. In that regard, the appointment met these goals, and I did walk away knowing a bit more about the Watch (probably much more if I had not read anything that came across my RSS reader), and decided which model I’d probably buy. Initially, there were reports that there would be a more sales-focused side of the in-store experience and even fashion-related conversation, but I didn’t noticed this. I never felt like I was getting a hard sell or even an upsell to a more expensive model either. Comparing notes with Lindsey’s interactions afterwards yielded the same result.

Still, although the supply constraints are disappointing and the first-generation of the Watch may not be everything for everyone, Apple certainly nailed the method of introducing it, especially since they can control so much about the first impression. Unlike the iPhone, and maybe more like the iPad, the Watch is a product without a specific purpose, but Apple can explain what it currently can do and let the developer community grow its appeal. That’s what I’m most excited about and I think any Watch doubters really need to rethink.

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