Leading indicators: Ads must mean a product is tanking


Apple has decided not to report Apple Watch sales figures, but if you're clever, you can find any number of reasons to say that they must be lackluster.

Writing for 24/7 Wall Street, Douglas A. McIntyre wonders aloud, "Why Does Apple Bother to Advertise Its Watch?" (tip o' the antlers to Dan Frakes and Ken Segall who handily performs his own takedown.)

Oh, it's probably not selling well. Seems obvious, right? Must be because it's not selling well. No one's buying them. Why else would they advertise? No reason. Literally none.

This is hardly McIntyre's first small animal clown rodeo. No, no, no. Back in 2008, McIntyre suggested strong iPhone sales would mean falling margins for Apple as it chased other vendors down the cost curve. Which, as we all know, is exactly what happened... on Earth 4893, the one with hyper-intelligent squirrels. Then in 2009, he said Apple's board was being paid to do nothing, which is at least a matter of opinion as opposed to being flat-out wrong. Progress.

At the top of the front page of WSJ.com is an ad, and a large one, for Apple Inc.’s new watch.

Clearly any product advertised anywhere is in deep trouble.

Why advertise at all, if Apple Watch sales are wildly successful? Maybe the ads are a sign that they are not.

Of course. OF COURSE. We've been wondering how Apple Watch sales have been and it's been right there staring us in the face all along! And it's not like Apple's ever advertised a product that was incredibly successful before.

[The Macalope turns to the camera, stares into it balefully forever.]

For a product with such a widely scrutinized launch, and with the new product so widely dissected, why bother to “Learn More” at all?

We're all going to die some day. Why bother doing anything?

The Apple Watch must be some kind of weird combination between a Rorschach test and Schrödinger's cat: It's both completely inscrutable with Apple doing a terrible job of explaining it because no one knows why they should want one, and everyone knows everything there is to know about it already. And it can be either one of these depending on how a pundit chooses to criticize it.

The scrutiny has revealed a many features of the watch that are right, but also some things that are not included and should have been.

Like lasers. Not one damn laser on the thing. Unless the sensors on the bottom are lasers in which case it does have lasers but is lacking an invisibility cloak. WHERE IS THE INVISIBILITY CLOAK?

A point of proof that Apple Watch is not unique enough to capture the market are the IPO plans of smartwatch company FitBit.

Sure, because no one ever continued merrily along assuming their business model could never be disrupted by Apple.

This whole article could have been titled "I have learned nothing from history."

If Apple Watch is not part of what will make Apple’s future bright, why spend millions, or tens of millions, to advertise it? Apple will not tell, so any opinion is no better than a guess.

Some are actually worse.

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