It won't matter if everybody hates the Apple Watch

Tim Cook iPhone 6 Apple WatchGetty/Justin SullivanApple CEO Tim Cook

Despite all the hype, Apple Watch hasn’t generated a whole lot of great reviews so far and it goes on sale Friday morning. The general consensus seems to be that the Watch is great but it’s not something you need to buy now.

More importantly, critics are saying Apple fails to explain why we need a smartwatch in the first place.

But if the past is any indication, Apple’s probably not too worried about any of the negative reviews it’s seeing now.

That’s because, as Oppenheimer pointed out in a note Thursday, Apple’s first generation product launches (iPod, iPhone, and iPad) have all begged the same question: “What does it do?”

Oppenheimer shared some old reviews of the first iPod, iPhone, and iPad, respectively, and there seems to be a clear pattern:

First iPod:

“Clearly Apple is following Sony’s lead by integrating consumer electronics devices into its marketing strategy, but Apple lacks the richness of Sony’s product offering. And introducing new consumer products right now is risky, especially if they cannot be priced attractively…” (Technology Business Research, October 2001)

First iPhone:

“The keyboard more or less requires “faith” in the word auto-correction, an Apple rep likened it to using The Force, and while all three reviewers were able to get up to speed sooner or later, it’s most certainly agreed that this is no BlackBerry-killer.” (Engadget, review of other journalist’s iPhone reviews, June 2007)

“Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized? With a plan? That is the most expensive phone in the world. And it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine.” (Steve Ballmer, 2007)

First iPad:

“This time around the Next Big Thing is called an iPad. It’s basically an oversize iPod Touch… Jobs and his team kept using words like “breakthrough” and “magical”, but the iPad is neither, at least not right now…At the very least, we had hoped a tablet from Apple would do something new, something we’ve never seen before. That’s not the case…” (Newsweek, January 2010)

Oppenheimer adds that critics tend to compare new Apple products to existing products, which is why they often fail to see their future value right away. “This is because the new interface introduces new possibilities that escape the imagination of the general public,” it notes.

Like it or not, only time will tell if the Watch is going to replicate Apple’s past success. Apple Watch preorders start Friday.

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