This week Tim Cook gave us a “one more thing” worth paying attention to: the introduction of the Apple Watch. But will Apple’s first foray into the wearables market be able to attract women, at least in its current iteration?
It’s an important question, because unlike any other product Apple produces, this is the only one you actually put on your body—and style is more important than function for a lot of women. In fact, a few months ago I wrote a post that got a fair bit of attention: “Dear Wearable Companies: Until You Market to Women, You Won’t Get Our Cash.” The title says it all, but to put it even more bluntly, most wearables are ugly and too bulky for a lot of wrists (especially female ones). Until wearable companies address both of these issues they will drastically limit their potential market.
This is especially true for women who (like me) care a lot about fashion and style.
During the Apple event, I watched my Twitter stream explode into a stream of salivating sentiments (mostly from men) to crabbier comments that it’s still not stylish enough and too bulky (mostly from women). As one female friend pointed out, “Cuteness on the wrist is 100% the deciding factor for me.”
It isn’t that cut and dry though; some women will definitely be buying. To get a better idea of just how many will join the Apple Watch club, a few colleagues and I polled women in our social networks. Here’s our combined tally:
Not Sure: 4
Of course this isn’t a scientific study, but those are some very sobering numbers. I'd also go so far as to say they would be even be more dismal if we polled people whose networks were less tech-savvy than ours. As one fashion-savvy woman told me, “it's ugly and clunky and I think we're too early in the technology for it to be particularly useful beyond fitness tracking.”
As I see it, here are some specific challenges that hurt its appeal with women, which Apple needs to address:
The rectangular, boxy watch face: Take a quick look through the women’s luxury watch section on Nordstrom and you’ll notice something interesting. Almost all the watches are circular. If you’re a numbers person, more specifically there are 307 round watches listed and only 79 square or rectangular watches. This is not to say some women won’t wear a rectangular watch, but the status quo is to have something more circular, and with gentler edges.
The size: Apple has thankfully made two sizes for the watches, but for those of us with small wrists it’s still unclear how the Apple Watch will fit on us. And regardless if the band fits well, the actual size of the watch face could still look a little ridiculous on smaller wrists.
Lack of design variety: The watch comes in three different collections, with 34 designs total. That’s a great start, but a lot of fashionistas may hold out until there’s even more variety. Think about eyeglasses—do you really want to choose for the same 34 designs everyone else had to choose from? If Apple open sourced watch designs to top designers, I can see a lot more fashion-minded women being more interested. We may very well see Apple do this in future iterations.
(Big caveat here: These are just generalities. Every woman has different style and tastes, and there are plenty of women who won’t agree with any of this.)
To be fair, the Apple Watch is a lot less ugly than most wearables on the market, and it certainly won’t put you on the Worst Dressed List. But super stylish? We are still very far off from that, and even the overly-produced slow motion videos of the watch sexily slinking across a white background can’t change what it really is, and that’s a first-generation product that has a long road of innovation ahead of it. (Just think about how clunky a first-generation iPod looks to us now.)
While the Apple Watch may be a step in the right direction, it’s not yet the pinnacle of style a lot of women will need to make a wearables purchase. Let me know when that wearable arrives. Until then, my particular wrists will remain unadorned.