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Study reveals Apple Watch leaves users “conflicted, confounded and critical” – with an impact on m-retail

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MBLM, a Brand Intimacy Agency focused on strategy, design, creative and technology, has found that Apple Watch is polarizing and users feel conflicted, confounded and critical.

Releasing the final set of findings from its year-long ethnography study focused on users of Apple Watch, the agency found that most of the panel felt the watch has not come close to achieving its potential, and offers less value than they had hoped for – and the majority don’t see it as an m-commerce or payments tool.

“Our research with the Apple Watch has resulted in rich, often contradictory data, with users ranging from fanatics to naysayers, with many confounded in the middle,” says Mario Natarelli, MBLM’s managing partner. “Unfortunately, the Apple Watch does not measure up for most people. For the device, which Apple claimed to be its most intimate, to be successful, we believe Apple needs to reach deeper and form stronger bonds with its users.”

MBLM found several major themes in this final installment of the study. The watch’s dependence on the iPhone was one of the biggest gripes MBLM heard consistently from the panel. Users say this is frustrating and ultimately limits how they use their watch. Additionally, with the phone nearby and behaviors more ingrained, they are more likely to default to using it versus the watch.

All have settled on very narrow and limited use of the features and functions of the Apple Watch. Though this is surprising with such a feature-rich device, the usage did vary broadly, suggesting the watch is able to find a diverse range of comfort zones with users.

Interestingly, earlier in the year, the panel was also not concerned about financial information being available on the watch via Apple Pay.

Most people weren’t planning on using it for m-commerce however, relying on it more for communications with SMS and for health apps.

That said, for athletic and sports-minded consumers, the watch’s capabilities are insufficient. MBLM believes that because this is a core function of the watch, Apple should do more to provide sophisticated tools. Ironically, the features and information Apple does provide does not resonate or get referenced by users often, perhaps due to ease of use or the quality of the data.

Perhaps most tellingly, no one on the panel said that they would definitely purchase the next version of the Apple Watch. Most feel that the updates will not be significant and the cost will not be worth it; however, some did mention that they might consider it if there is a trade-in programme.

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