How Apple Can Improve Its Watch And Boost Sales


Kelli Richards


Kelli Richards is the CEO of The All Access Group.

More posts from Kelli Richards

Apple isn’t releasing exact sales numbers, but some expert digging has led many to believe that sales of the Apple Watch haven’t reached expectations since its launch in spring 2015. The company’s annual filing suggested it sold $1.7 billion worth in fiscal 2015, but compare that with the iPhone, which sold $32.2 billion worth in the fourth quarter alone. That’s a big discrepancy for a company that’s used to seeing lines around the block for new product releases.

I spent 12 years at Apple — most of my corporate career, in fact. During my tenure, I launched and drove the music and entertainment verticals and, as a natural side effect, became intimately immersed in Apple products and processes.

With that knowledge, I have a personal principle for all new launches: Wait about six months before purchasing the latest gadget (particularly in a new product category), as it takes about that long for Apple to work out all the kinks. Usually, the increased functionality is well worth the wait.

Yet even beyond the six-month point, I haven’t yet purchased an Apple Watch myself. And with rumors swarming around about the Apple Watch 2.0, the principle bears repeating: Hold off six months before purchasing.

After spending so much of my career focused on Apple, I possess both an insider’s and an outsider’s view of what’s happening with the watch, and there are several things I’d love to see developed (or at least considered). Here are a few areas in which future iterations of the Apple Watch could be improved to help reach (and boost) projected sales.

Fashion: The current Apple Watch is sleek and smooth compared with other smartwatches, but even as a tech device, it could push the style envelope further. Fashion industry executives now at Apple, including those from brands such as Yves Saint Laurent and Burberry, have tried to establish Apple as a lifestyle brand by upping its sex appeal. The company is even partnering with fashion designer Hermès.

Although Apple has been successful in these ventures for the most part, the exclusive styles born out of these collaborations are still too expensive for most buyers. Everyone wants to be able to customize her watchbands, not just those with deep pockets.

Apple’s next step, then, should be partnering with more inexpensive brands like Target to increase customizability while decreasing the watch’s price. By doing so, Apple would optimize its product by appealing to more of the masses.

Back when the iPod Nano came out, for example, Apple not only created a new space in the market, but also released the product in candy colors that appealed to young kids in its targeted demographic. Likewise, by offering a simpler, cheaper route to band customization, suddenly the pool of potential Apple Watch customers expands.

Independence: What people want most is to not have to carry all their devices with them. And for the Apple Watch, its reliance on an iPhone might be its biggest flaw. Right now, people still have to carry their phones because of the Bluetooth connectivity that enables the watch’s functionality. Without the phone, its uses are limited.

As it stands, the Apple Watch is no more than an iPhone accessory, rather than its own device. But in the future, the watch, independent of any other Apple product, will allow for seamless integration into a user’s personal life. Imagine going for a run and having GPS settled on your wrist without having to carry your phone, or sitting at an airport and hearing airline notifications ping as flight delays happen.

Although this type of feature is most likely too far off for the Apple Watch 2.0, it’s still something to consider moving forward as tech like the watch improves. Similar to the shift away from desktop computers, the Apple Watch could dominate the wearable space in the move away from mobile.

Health: On a more practical level, many people are interested in wearables because of the potential health benefits they provide.

As more Americans try to manage their own health, apps that monitor all facets of wellness grow in popularity. Most Apple products have relied on third-party app developers to create this kind of value, but if Apple could lead and drive more of the innovation and health metric analysis, it would give the brand yet another competitive advantage over other wearable technologies.

Apps that make blood sugar testing easier (without skin pricks) or identify heart attack symptoms would increase the stakes for several companies, such as Fitbit. Apple has an opportunity to be the leader in apps that address real healthcare problems for real people in real time.

When it comes to waiting for technology to mature, I’m in good company. Steve Jobs famously waited years to purchase appliances such as a washer and dryer for his home because he wanted the perfect models that would solve his needs and be highly functional as well as aesthetically pleasing. The same is true for me — and, as sales show, apparently for many others — when it comes to the Apple Watch.

I hope to see Apple implement some of the strategies noted above as the Watch evolves over time. In my experience, these three approaches would quickly attract customers who are waiting to see what the Apple Watch will become and how the wearables space will progress.

More TechCrunch

Microsoft announced on Tuesday during its annual Build conference that it’s bringing “Windows Volumetric Apps” to Meta Quest headsets. The partnership will allow Microsoft to bring Windows 365 and local…

Microsoft’s new ‘Volumetric Apps’ for Quest headsets extend Windows apps into the 3D space

The spam reached Bluesky by first crossing over two other decentralized networks: Mastodon and Nostr.

The ‘vote Trump’ spam that hit Bluesky in May came from decentralized rival Nostr

Welcome to TechCrunch Fintech! This week, we’re looking at the continued fallout from Synapse’s bankruptcy, how Layer wants to disrupt SMB accounting, and much more! To get a roundup of…

There’s a real appetite for a fintech alternative to QuickBooks

The company is hoping to produce electricity at $13 per megawatt hour, which would be more than 50% cheaper than traditional onshore wind.

Bill Gates-backed wind startup AirLoom is raising $12M, filings reveal

Generative AI makes stuff up. It can be biased. Sometimes it spits out toxic text. So can it be “safe”? Rick Caccia, the CEO of WitnessAI, believes it can. “Securing…

WitnessAI is building guardrails for generative AI models

It’s not often that you hear about a seed round above $10 million. H, a startup based in Paris and previously known as Holistic AI, has announced a $220 million…

French AI startup H raises $220M seed round

Hey there, Series A to B startups with $35 million or less in funding — we’ve got an exciting opportunity that’s tailor-made for your growth journey! If you’re looking to…

Boost your startup’s growth with a ScaleUp package at TC Disrupt 2024

TikTok is pulling out all the stops to prevent its impending ban in the United States. Aside from initiating legal action against the U.S. government, that means shaping up its…

As a US ban looms, TikTok announces a $1M program for socially driven creators

Microsoft wants to put its Copilot everywhere. It’s only a matter of time before Microsoft renames its annual Build developer conference to Microsoft Copilot. Hopefully, some of those upcoming events…

Microsoft’s Power Automate no-code platform adds AI flows

Build is Microsoft’s largest developer conference and of course, it’s all about AI this year. So it’s no surprise that GitHub’s Copilot, GitHub’s “AI pair programming tool,” is taking center…

GitHub Copilot gets extensions

Microsoft wants to make its brand of generative AI more useful for teams — specifically teams across corporations and large enterprise organizations. This morning at its annual Build dev conference,…

Microsoft intros a Copilot for teams

Microsoft’s big focus at this year’s Build conference is generative AI. And to that end, the tech giant announced a series of updates to its platforms for building generative AI-powered…

Microsoft upgrades its AI app-building platforms

The U.K.’s data protection watchdog has closed an almost year-long investigation of Snap’s AI chatbot, My AI — saying it’s satisfied the social media firm has addressed concerns about risks…

UK data protection watchdog ends privacy probe of Snap’s GenAI chatbot, but warns industry

U.S. cell carrier Patriot Mobile experienced a data breach that included subscribers’ personal information, including full names, email addresses, home ZIP codes and account PINs, TechCrunch has learned. Patriot Mobile,…

Conservative cell carrier Patriot Mobile hit by data breach

It’s been three years since Spotify acquired live audio startup Betty Labs, and yet the music streaming service isn’t leveraging the technology to its fullest potential — at least not…

Spotify’s ‘Listening Party’ feature falls short of expectations

Alchemist Accelerator has a new pile of AI-forward companies demoing their wares today, if you care to watch, and the program itself is making some international moves into Tokyo and…

Alchemist’s latest batch puts AI to work as accelerator expands to Tokyo, Doha

“Late Pledge” allows campaign creators to continue collecting money even after the campaign has closed.

Kickstarter now lets you pledge after a campaign closes

Stack AI’s co-founders, Antoni Rosinol and Bernardo Aceituno, were PhD students at MIT wrapping up their degrees in 2022 just as large language models were becoming more mainstream. ChatGPT would…

Stack AI wants to make it easier to build AI-fueled workflows

Pinecone, the vector database startup founded by Edo Liberty, the former head of Amazon’s AI Labs, has long been at the forefront of helping businesses augment large language models (LLMs)…

Pinecone launches its serverless vector database out of preview

Young geothermal energy wells can be like budding prodigies, each brimming with potential to outshine their peers. But like people, most decline with age. In California, for example, the amount…

Special mud helps XGS Energy get more power out of geothermal wells

Featured Article

Sonos finally made some headphones

The market play is clear from the outset: The $449 headphones are firmly targeted at an audience that would otherwise be purchasing the Bose QC Ultra or Apple AirPods Max.

7 hours ago
Sonos finally made some headphones

Adobe says the feature is up to the task, regardless of how complex of a background the object is set against.

Adobe brings Firefly AI-powered Generative Remove to Lightroom

All cars suffer when the mercury drops, but electric vehicles suffer more than most as heaters draw more power and batteries charge more slowly as the liquid electrolyte inside thickens.…

Porsche Ventures invests in battery startup South 8 to boost cold-weather EV performance

Scale AI has raised a $1 billion Series F round from a slew of big-name institutional and corporate investors including Amazon and Meta.

Data-labeling startup Scale AI raises $1B as valuation doubles to $13.8B

The new coalition, Tech Against Scams, will work together to find ways to fight back against the tools used by scammers and to better educate the public against financial scams.

Meta, Match, Coinbase and others team up to fight online fraud and crypto scams

It’s a wrap: European Union lawmakers have given the final approval to set up the bloc’s flagship, risk-based regulations for artificial intelligence.

EU Council gives final nod to set up risk-based regulations for AI

London-based fintech Vitesse has closed a $93 million Series C round of funding led by investment giant KKR.

Vitesse, a payments and treasury management platform for insurers, raises $93M to fuel US expansion

Zen Educate, an online marketplace that connects schools with teachers, has raised $37 million in a Series B round of funding. The raise comes amid a growing teacher shortage crisis…

Zen Educate raises $37M and acquires Aquinas Education as it tries to address the teacher shortage

“When I heard the released demo, I was shocked, angered and in disbelief that Mr. Altman would pursue a voice that sounded so eerily similar to mine.”

Scarlett Johansson says that OpenAI approached her to use her voice

A new self-driving truck — manufactured by Volvo and loaded with autonomous vehicle tech developed by Aurora Innovation — could be on public highways as early as this summer.  The…

Aurora and Volvo unveil self-driving truck designed for a driverless future