The Apple Watch 2 may be coming, but the next-generation wearable might be given only a minor upgrade over its predecessor. A research note by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicates its production is expected to ramp up during Apple’s third quarter, which ends in June. That could mean a launch alongside the company’s rumored iPhone 7 in the fall. But, instead of a massive overhaul similar to those seen in the numbered iterations of the firm’s products, Kuo suggested the Apple Watch 2 may receive improvements similar to those seen in S-designated upgrades of the iPhone.
The Apple Watch’s biggest problem is its perceived lack of usefulness, which may not be solved by comparatively minor modifications such as better battery life or an improved display.
In the Apple Watch 2, consumers should expect mostly technical improvements and a slightly slimmer design. The upgrades could include a larger battery, addressing a major complaint lodged by consumers, and a new display for increased visibility, according to rumors published by AppleInsider. There is other speculation circulating around the likes of a front-facing camera and increased functionality of Wi-Fi when the Apple Watch 2 is not paired with an iPhone, but these more robust improvements may wind up being part of an upgrade to come in 2017.
A minor upgrade of the Apple Watch may not be enough to sway public perception about the necessity of a wearable. Kuo estimated Apple Watch sales were around 10.6 million units in 2015, but forecast they will be down by 25 percent to about 7.5 million in 2016. The analyst cited expected fluctuations in a burgeoning industry as one reason behind the drop in shipments, but another is the overall functionality of the Apple Watch. Many people are unconvinced that a wearable should be incorporated into their daily lives in the same way as a either smartphone or tablet. The poor battery life and necessary link to an iPhone also act to limit the mass appeal of the Apple Watch.
But there is reason for optimism about the future of the Apple Watch in particular and wearables in general. Even though consumers overall are not convinced of the value to be found in the device, Apple Watch owners are enthusiastic about the wearable, according to a poll by Fluent, an advertising technology company. Bearing in mind a margin of error of about 2 percent, the firm surveyed 2,578 American adults, 8 percent of whom said they owned an Apple Watch. Among these owners, 46 percent said convenience was the primary factor in owning an Apple Watch, while 31 percent said its features constituted the main selling point. The overwhelming majority of the owners, 80 percent, employed the Apple Watch to track their fitness. The Apple Watch was also used for listening to music (75 percent), checking emails and chat (66 percent) and shopping (61 percent).
There was a difference of opinion among the owners of the Apple Watch, owners of other Apple products and overall Americans about the success or failure of the device. Those inside the Apple ecosystem generally agreed that the wearable is a successful product, with 77 percent of the owners of the Apple Watch and 62 percent of the owners of other Apple products expressing this opinion. Those outside the Apple ecosystem generally disagreed that the wearable is a successful product, with 53 percent of overall Americans expressing this opinion.
Despite concerns over early adoption, consumers are open to the idea of a future where every wrist has a wearable. In the Fluent poll, 50 percent of those surveyed said they believe the majority of consumers will own smartwatches in 10 years. And that figure goes up to 75 percent among the owners of the Apple Watch.