Two years ago, Apple Watch was born: here's what's happened since


On April 24th, 2015, Apple started shipping its first smartwatch, a brand new device category that the company had been developing for years: the Apple Watch.

It's now been two years since the Apple Watch launched, it has undergone one major upgrade with the new Series 2, and it has gone through many software iterations, including a massive speed boost.

In the meantime, smartwatches in general have not been quite the hit that manufacturers had hoped them to be. The small start-up Pebble that started it all for smartwatch enthusiasts is now dead because it could not sell enough watches, companies like Fitbit are struggling to stay relevant, the Android Wear platform has to go through some major changes to prove itself worthy and it seems like smartwatches have still not found their raison d'etre.

Looking at all this, let's focus our attention on the Apple Watch and what has happened in its two years of existence. First, let's start with a quick timeline of the major events in the 2-year anniversary of the Apple Watch.

Apple Watch timeline


  • February 10th, 2013: New York Times and Wall Street Journal report that Apple is beginning to develop an iOS-based smartwatch with a curved screen
  • April 2014: Tim Cook tell The Wall Street Journal that Apple is planning to launch new product categories in 2014
  • September 9th, 2014: Tim Cook officially unveils Apple iPhone 6 and... Apple Watch, "the next chapter in Apple's story" ***Cook describes the Apple Watch as "a precise timepiece, a new intimate way to communicate from your wrist, and a comprehensive health and fitness device." This 3-in-1 explanation is similar to the way Steve Jobs described the revolutionary new iPhone as a 3-in-1 device: phone, internet connected device and music player.
  • April 10th, 2015: Apple Watch pre-orders start
  • April 24th, 2015: Apple Watch official release date
  • June 4th, 2015: Apple announces plans to stock Apple Watch at its retail stores
  • August 24th, 2015: Best Buy announces it will start selling Apple Watch in its stores by end-September
  • September 9th, 2015: Apple Watch Hermes bands collection announced
  • November 6th, 2015: Apple Watch goes on sale in India and other markets
  • March 21st, 2016: New nylon bands and new color watch bands announced at Apple Event. Apple Sport model price cut by $50
  • September 7th, 2016: Apple announces Watch Series 2 with water-protection, brighter display, GPS and faster chip inside. Cuts prices on the first generation Apple Watches and upgrades them. Apple Nike watch collaboration announced.
  • September 13th, 2016: watchOS 3, the biggest software update for the platform arrives. It brings a big boost in app loading times, a dedicated Breathe app, a dock with favorite apps, a new Control Center, and more.


1. Is the Apple Watch a success or a failure?


Two years after the launch of the Apple Watch, there is still no one opinion on whether it has been a success or a failure for Apple.

There are two ways to look at the Apple Watch: firstly, it generates more revenue than any other smartwatch by a long shot, and secondly, it's clearly not a product that generates nearly as much revenue as iPhones and iPads. While Apple does not provide sales numbers for the Watch, Tim Cook has said that the Apple Watch has become the second-biggest watch business by revenue, falling behind only Rolex. Clearly, we have all the evidence to conclude that the Watch is now a multi-billion dollar business that is much bigger than any other smartwatch out there.

So it's up to you to choose your viewpoint: choosing to compare with other devices in its class means that you will see the Apple Watch as a success, and choosing to put it in the overall Apple corporate perspective, it's true that the Apple Watch has not become a game-changer like the iPhone or iPad.

However, we are not here to crunch numbers, we are here to answer the bigger questions around the Apple Watch: do people need one? What is it used for? What is it not good for? And can it ever become a must-have product like our phones. Let's go ahead and start with...

2. Why do people need a smartwatch?



People need a phone and are used to carrying one with them at all times, but do people need a smartwatch? And what should it do and what should it refrain from doing? Luckily, we don't have to write an essay on this topic: Apple itself has a very telling picture of the Apple Watch front and center on its website. Look at it closer: it's clearly a masterpiece of photography, carefully orchestrated to show the most important, the essential aspects of the watch. Analize it well and you will learn a few important things about what Apple views its Watch as.

The choice of a watchface is particularly telling: it shows that the watch is a timepiece, but above all it shows a fitness tracker. Notice that you have the daily rings, the running activity in the top right, and the watch itself in this most representative picture that takes a full screen over at Apple.com is shown in its nylon and sports bands. You can also see a weather app shortcut and a shortcut to the most recent appointment. From this picture, we can see that Apple knows that people use the Watch a lot for tracking their fitness, but also want to check the time, weather and calendar. What is not shown on this picture is notifications, another important aspect of the experience.


The Apple Watch and its meaning has changed over the years: the added speed boost has shown that Apple realizes that it is crucial for people to be able to just quickly glance and see information right away, rather than wait for apps to load or to chat on your apps. The digital crown is no longer the watch interface solve-it-all that Apple touted at start. The app drawer consisting of tiny, bubbly icons is rarely shown, as people have found it hard to navigate such small sized icons. The previously advertized feature that you can look on your photos on the watch is basically not promoted anymore. Most importantly, the Apple Watch is no longer advertized as a communications device. That aspect is not completely gone, but for less accentuated.

The perception of a smartwatch has changed at Apple, as the company now sees more clearly how real people are using the timepiece. And it has realized that a watch is definitely not for: heavy texting or social media, it's not about games. It has realized that the Watch has to be quicker than a phone, because people would instead just use their phones. It has realized that a $10,000 gold watch is an overkill and that most people buy the $300 sports model. It has realized that while apps are important, they are far less important on a watch than on a phone.

3. What has to improve in future Apple Watches


Looking at the competition, it's clear that the Apple Watch has a special place.

It is one of very few small smartwatches that also appeal to women. But other smartwatches have also shown that many things could and should improve in Apple's wearable.

We now have many Android watches with always-on display that lasts a couple of days, while the Apple Watch only lasts one day without the option to have its screen always awake.

We have learned that the digital crown is not that useful and that rival interface mechanisms like the rotating bezel on the Samsung Gear family is now commonly seen as a very viable alternative.

Last but not least, we have learned that many people prefer a round smartwatch that more like a traditional timepiece than this rectangular design.

And, of course, we have also seen independent smartwatches, that can place and receive a phone call without the need to connect to a phone.

Conclusions


At the end of the day, the Apple Watch is a popular device that is still trying to find itself. But while in its early days Apple itself seemed confused as to what and how will users use its Watch, these days it has a much clearer idea. And this knowledge will allow it to move quickly and decisively to make the Watch better. We already know that the company is hard at work on bringing full independence to the watch and the new AirPods work as a great combo with the Watch.

Is a major Apple Watch overhaul coming, though? Can we expect a round Apple Watch or a rotating bezel? We are a bit skeptical on that front. It's not impossible, but with all credible rumors pointing towards a huge push towards the upcoming Apple augmented reality glasses in 2018, a completely new category of a device, we'd think that Apple's thoughts are going towards that upcoming project rather than to an Apple Watch revolution. Only time can tell, though.

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49 Comments

47. jakoh

Posts: 4; Member since: May 09, 2017

I think the Apple watch is the uGLIEST thing to hit wrists since the Pebble. Everytime i see one i am wondering, is that really an Apple watch? The same company that makes the iphone? A watch is not an IPHONE Apple! I would rather wear a rubber silicone fitness band than pebbly looking anodized aluminum on my wrist with ONE HUGE EAR.

38. tokuzumi

Posts: 2031; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Only reason we have smart watches is because screens on phones have become too large, and people don't want to interact with the large screen all the time. It's not like you are any less distracted with interacting with the smart watch, compared to your phone. Smart watches will get larger, as people want to do more and more with them.

45. JBDragon

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

I've been waiting for Samesung to make a 5" screen Smart Watch to strap onto your wrist. Not like you can strap on your phone now if y ou really wanted. There's your big watch screen phone. The reason for a smart wathc isn't because the phone screens are large. It's many reasons, but some of them are not having to pull your phone out every time it dings to see what new message you got and if you care. Not walking around like a Zombie with the phone in your face!!! A few seconds looking on a watch saves a lot of time. When happens when you pull out your phone? You see the message and then you just decides to go look at your facebook things, or whatever else and before you know it, wasted 15 minutes doing crap on your phone. I can go on and on, but a Smart Watch is a great tool to keep you off the phone a lot more and in the real world.

31. cnpthe3rd

Posts: 103; Member since: Feb 01, 2009

why an Apple timeline? what about 2012: Sony SmartWatch 2013: Pebble 2013: Samsung Galaxy Gear 2014: Samsung Gear Fit 2014: Samsung Gear 2 2014: Samsung Gear 2NEO 2014: Moto 360 2014: Samsung Gear S (standalone no phone needed) ALL before the Apple and ALL have more features etc.

34. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

and Apple is selling the most and then it is the BEST.

35. Victor.H

Posts: 1117; Member since: May 27, 2011

Because this is an article about the Apple Watch.

44. JBDragon

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

HAHAHA, Moto 360 is no more. They've stopped making watches. Pebble is no more. Sony? Samesung keep releasing watches that don't really sell. No one gives a crap about a stand alone watch. Why would a fandroid especially want a stand alone watch? As it's been all about a BIG SCREEN phone. Now you're going to go back to a tiny screen phone? That's laughable!!! As a rule, you're on Desktop's for Hours, Smartphones for minutes and Smart Watches for Seconds. Which is how you should be looking at it. By the way, the Apple Watch does far more Better then the crap you have on your list. You are so, so clueless. I don't even see anyone wearing any of those, yet I see Apple Watches on people all over, and I see them on TV with people wearing them in the programs. You clearly have no idea of all the things a Apple Watch can do.

26. batmite

Posts: 197; Member since: Jan 19, 2017

The greatest smartwatch of all time.

17. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

Apple changed the game as usual. Keep it up Apple with another innovations. Apple does, the others follow.

21. willard12 unregistered

You really should consider taking your comedy routine on the road.

22. tedkord

Posts: 17532; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

He thinks that if he keeps repeating it, someone will eventually believe it.

24. insmek

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 26, 2017

Funny thing is, innovations in the phone space don't matter until Apple does them. You've got more than a dozen Android manufacturers trying to do new and exciting things every year, but largely those attempts come and go--no matter how awesome they are. A few examples: - The front-facing speakers of HTC's One lineup. Garnered near-universal praise, and with good reason. Some of the highest quality speakers to ever grace a phone, and the design lasted just three generations. - Waterproofing. The Samsung Galaxy S5 touted the fact that it was waterproof, one of the first major phones to be so. Despite the hype, the subsequent two generations neglected to include full waterproofing as one of their bullet points. Samsung finally brought it back with the S8, but only after Apple introduced it on the iPhone 7. - Force touch. Android has had force touch capabilities since November of 2009, with Éclair. Interesting then, that manufacturers only begin including the technology 8 years later after Apple highlights it on their phones. The point of all this being, is it really innovation if nobody cares that you're doing it? "I had a [whatever] before it was cool." Well, yeah, exactly, it wasn't cool when you did it. You didn't make it cool. It took someone else way cooler than you to come along and make it cool.

27. willard12 unregistered

First, the only thing you are highlighting is how stupid people and gullible people are. Nothing you wrote is any praise for Apple. But, you only highlighted the "bandwagon jumping" that Apple fans do. If a company "makes something cool" to you, then they have also made you a sheep. Or, maybe you're just one of those people waiting to see what Justin Bieber does next so he can "make something cool" for you. 2nd, Samsung cut waterproofing for 1 x generation, not two (the S6/Note 5). The S7 is water resistant as was the Note 7...which were both out before the iphone 7, months before in the case of the S7. But, who cares about facts? This fact alone should make your entire idiotic post null and void...but, let's continue for fun. They also brought back the micro SD card after 1 generation. I suppose you can figure out how to give credit to Apple for that too. 3rd, Force touch still doesn't matter. 4. Large screens, pull down notifications, widgets, LED screens (coming soon), digitizer pens, split screen, one handed mode, wireless charging (coming soon), NFC, power saving mode, 4G LTE that were out months to years before Apple implemented them weren't made cool by Apple. Apple copied and you told yourself it was now cool, because you're a douche.

37. insmek

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 26, 2017

Hey bud, no need for name calling here. I enjoy Android as much as anyone, I just call it like I see it. You've made some good examples, but the point remains--a lot of these things didn't become standard smartphone features until they made their way to Apple devices. Like I said in my original post, Android phones might get these features first, but they don't seem to matter until Apple implements them. I mean, look at your list. Digitizer pens aren't really used in the mobile phone space by anyone except Samsung--they haven't exactly "caught on". I might be able to Google and find another phone that uses them, but almost nobody could come up with one off the top of their head. It's like I said: it's the sort of neat tech that doesn't really go anywhere. NFC? Yeah, you're right, Apple didn't implement it first. But at least in the US, I didn't see almost anyone supporting mobile pay systems until Apple Pay came around. LED screens are awesome, don't get me wrong, but they're still far from "standard". Most consumers don't expect one when they're buying a phone--probably because Apple hasn't included one yet. I bet you that most people couldn't tell you the sort of technology driving their display, but they could definitely tell you if their screen is "Retina" or not. And, as for the S7, I never owned one, so I can't speak to its water resistance. But a quick Google search when I was writing the post yesterday suggested that it was far from waterproof, so I rolled with it. The point remains, of course. Waterproofing still wasn't a standard feature of high end phones after Samsung or anyone else brought it to the market. Lo and behold, the iPhone 7 comes out and now all of the new Android flagships feature their press photos with someone holding them under a stream of water. That isn't coincidence. You're so totally blinded by your fanboy hatred for Apple that you can't see the forest through the trees. The simple reality is that owners of Android flagships owe a lot to Apple in terms of pressuring manufacturers to include features that bring them to parity with iPhones.

39. willard12 unregistered

A totally blind fanboy is someone who needs a manufacturer to "make something cool" for them. I look at a device's capability. I don't need a seller to indoctrinate me into thinking something is or isn't "cool". You're crediting Apple for having psychological influence over you and others with words like "retina". So, you calling someone a "fanboy" while simultaneously admitting that Apple has made people fanboys with their marketing campaign is a joke. You're waffling on waterproofing and water resistance to the point where you make absolutely no sense. Neither Apple nor Samsung have had "water proofing" so I'm not sure (neither are you) what you mean by "bringing it back" because Apple made water resistance (or water proofing cool). Either way, you're wrong. So, I guess it doesn't matter. Bottom line: If something isn't already cool or useful, then why is Apple copying it in the first place?

46. insmek

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 26, 2017

willard12, when did I say I needed anyone to make something cool for me? I don't care, but the situation is what it is. Apple has a way of making previously irrelevant things cool for the populace at large. That's significant, whether you like Apple or not. You yourself listed a large number of things that Apple didn't invent or bring to the table first but that failed to catch on with consumers and manufacturers in a big way until Apple did them. You're making my point for me! And for waterproofing, my point remains: No phone--no phone AT ALL--made waterproofing mainstream until the iPhone did it. Period. Samsung is the biggest Android manufacturer, and even they couldn't force a tectonic shift in consumer demand and device development by including it. Apple did. Case in point: No LG flagship has been waterproof until the iPhone 7 came out. Now the LG G6 is touting its waterproof capabilities. That's not coincidence. And again, I'm not saying that these things aren't useful. Most of these features are great--I'm a previous Note owner, and I love that S-Pen--but the fact remains that they almost never catch on until Apple brings them to the iPhone. Huawei could make an integrated waffle maker in their next flagship, and keep it in there every year for ten years. But only after the iPhone gets iWaffles would you see waffle makers as a standard feature on flagship phones. At the end of the day, Apple doesn't need to invent these features--they just need to refine them and put their special sauce on them, because they're still going to control the tidal shifts in the industry.

48. jakoh

Posts: 4; Member since: May 09, 2017

Dont forget, it looks FUGLY, BOTTOMLINE.

43. JBDragon

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

Stylus, Samesung wasn't first! How about Apple and their Newton!!! How aboutmy HP iPAQ Windows Mobile 5 PDA which had one. The problem with these things is they SUCK. If you are forced to use one to move around the OS, it sucks. THey also can be easily lost. The finger makes far more sense. Samesung just threw out a larger screen phone with a Stylus and fandroids think that's the greatest thing and that they were first to do it. NOPE! NFC? Google Wallet was going NO WHERE. NFC terminals all over were being pulled. It was failing and going no where. What Apple Pay came out, that completely turned around the market. Apple Pay doesn't work anything like Google Wallet other then the NFC connection. Which is why Google copied Apple with Android Pay which works just like Apple Pay does. Android Pay doesn't work like Google Pay did. Fingerprint scanners before the iPhone SUCKED!!! I had one on my HP iPAQ where you had to run your finger across the sensor. It didn't work well at all. Apple Releases TouchID. Something that works really good and fast. Now only made a scanner, but combined it with a Button. Something NO ONE ELSE had done before. Then Samesung came along and created their own scanner/button combo after. I can go on and on, buy some of these blind fandroids are a lost cause with their Apple hate.

29. tedkord

Posts: 17532; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Yes, it is innovation. Simple answer. Someone "cooler" coming after and copying it is still just copying it.

25. fyah_king unregistered

Changed?

12. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3109; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Have anyone bought the 17,000$ gold watch? Just curious.

8. insmek

Posts: 6; Member since: Apr 26, 2017

I bought one as a birthday present for myself after I got back from Iraq late last year. After about six months of use, it's become an invaluable part of my daily routine. Quick replying to messages and fitness tracking are probably my biggest day-to-day uses, but the thing that really makes it indispensable is being able to ping my phone, which has a habit of being left in odd places around the house. I do wish the battery life was a bit better, so I could regularly use it for sleep tracking. As it is I could get away with charging it every other night, but I'd still miss out on 50% of the tracking, making the whole thing a bit moot. All told, however, I don't have much to complain about. The fact that it brings so much to the table for just remembering to put it on every morning has made it a more than worthwhile purchase, and it's something I'll be using for a long time to come.

7. BullDozer

Posts: 160; Member since: Dec 18, 2015

Huge failure for Apple and for smartwatch industry. Markets were expecting something extraordinary but they got an ugly cheap looking design, poor usability and very limited battery life. The result was that market lost interest to smartwatches overall.

14. Spyro

Posts: 334; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

So it's Apple's fault that they didn't repeat what they did with the release of the iPhone?

42. JBDragon

Posts: 9; Member since: Apr 27, 2017

WOW, another completely clueless person. As the Apple Watch is a great looking device. Seen all over including TV. Usability is great. battery life is more then a day. It charges next to my iPhone hat gets charged nightly. Apple sold 12 million Apple Watches last year, that's more then Amazon has sold of the Echo in it's whole life looking at reported numbers. Yet the Echo is a huge hit? No the market lost interest is Android Wear watches. The Apple Watch is doing just fine.

5. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

THe Apple Watch is a disgrace. They talked about ut having so many features, and after 2 years of delay, it came out being worse than Samsung's first Gear. There was no rush for this product. They could have delayed it one more year to actually get it right. It has dismal battery-life for a watch that has no cellular or WiFi capabilities. Its just BT. It can't be used as a standalone device. The very things that the original Gear was slaughtered for as cons, the Apple Watch was given a pass for not having. TYPICAL! I want one, but I refuse to pay more for less. Your phone must be with you in order to use it. PERIOD. That' ok for a 1st generation model, but we are on a newer gen and yet nothign has changed. It's no match for the Gear S. The Gear S can be used 100% standalone. You can download apps directly to it without yoru phone. The only plus side to Apple is all the devs support it lie a religion. If the devs support the GEar S like they did Apple, the Apple Watch would be a complete failure. I think devs purposely don't support other platforms because they claim they can't mkae any money. Which is BS. If you make what people want they will buy. There will always be more people who will buy vs steal. That is 100% fact. Its simply a lame excuse. Like the iPhone the Apple Watch is boring. But to be fair, the Gear S3 is boring too, outside of when you use it for what features it offers. BEcause of this, ALL smart-wearables are expensive accessories that don't do anything your phoen doesn't do already. But the Gear has a huge advantage in being able to do SMS texts, phones calls and track your workouts automatically and then sync to your phone when they connect. And both devices can be connected remotely over WiFi and over your cellular connection which means you will never miss a call, or a text...even if it comes to you cell phones number and not your watch number. Apple has the app and support advantage. If Samsung can get devs to support them better, the Apple Watch would die a horrible death. Apple Watch proves that having all the jack in the world, won't automatically give youi a better product. A better product comes from thinking outside the box vs just trying to create another money laundering scheme.

15. Spyro

Posts: 334; Member since: Mar 29, 2017

All companies are trying to make bucks and not just Apple. Apple knows its brand popularity will always bring in more money but is that something you can argue with? For Pete's sake, it's not even a bad product and I'm pretty sure it sells more than most smartwatches out there. Let that sink in....

18. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

When you will go to a psychiatrist? Your situation is alarming.

19. maherk

Posts: 7102; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Make sure you go with him, because both of you need serious help.

23. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

I will leave my place for you, urgent cases first!!!!!

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