Over the years Apple has cultivated a very powerful Halo Effect. The the Halo Effect works because you can get customers to experience one of your products, they enjoy your product, and they want to buy more of your products. Apple’s most famous halo products were the iPod and the iPhone. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Apple Watch1 has the same ability to be a halo product (yet). 2 And here’s why.

In order for a product to be a halo product you have to be able to buy it first. Famously, Steve Jobs was convinced to put iTunes on the Mac and PC. This made the iPod available to basically anyone. The iPod exploded because everyone could access a computer that worked with an iPod.

The iPhone is a halo product for Apple because it could be your first Apple product. Interestingly, over time it became apparent that something was holding the iPhone back. Something was preventing it from being an even better first Apple experience: tethering. You had to tether the iPhone to backup your device, sync, get software updates, or do any number of other activities. By construction this prevents anyone that does not own a computer from owning an iPhone. Apple recognized this and adapted. iCloud, for all of its problems, makes the iPhone the perfect halo product.3

The Apple Watch cannot be a halo product. The way it works is by being paired with an Apple device, so the watch becomes an accessory only. This will make rapid widespread adoption difficult. Understanding that the market of current iPhone owners is huge, Apple is limiting their market to their existing users.

I suspect the need to tether an Apple Watch will be temporary. As technology advances and becomes smaller and less power hungry, I hope to see Apple modify the Apple Watch through time so it can become a stand-alone device and the next great Apple halo product.4

Untethering Apple Watch

  1. or Watch if you please

  2. To be clear, I am not saying the Apple Watch will be a failure. I think it will likely be very successful.

  3. I am not forgetting the iPad, but it follows the same conceptual arc as the iPhone.

  4. For more thoughts about the Apple Watch as a stand-alone device go here and here.

Tagged on: