CUPERTINO, CALIF. -- Apple needs you to think its new Watch is cool. But it doesn't actually need you to buy one.
The tech giant spent years developing Apple Watch, the wrist-worn computer that it announced to big applause in a packed auditorium here today.
If Apple Watch isn't a hit, it will hardly doom the company. But that's not what CEO Tim Cook is worried about.
Apple is a company made up of hardware hits. The iPod, iPad and, most notably, the iPhone -- which alone has been responsible for over 50 percent of Apple's revenue in recent quarters -- have all been huge money-makers. But none of those were Cook's products -- they were all legendary Apple founder Steve Jobs's babies. Sure, Cook has overseen the newest versions, but the new devices since he's been CEO have been iterations of older ones.
Apple Watch is different. It's all Cook's. The company even dropped its signature "i" from the product -- a naming device straight out of Jobs' playbook. The gadget isn't an iWatch, it's a Watch.
As Tim Bajarin, a technology analyst for Creative Strategies, a research and analysis firm, told The New York Times last week, “The design of this product is all Tim’s fingerprints."
This is Cook's chance to prove that Apple can still innovate, even without Steve Jobs.
But even if Cook wants you to go crazy for the new watch, Apple as a company doesn't actually need to sell many of them. That's because so many people buy the new models of the iPhone, the most popular smartphone in the world. And the iPhones announced today -- one with a 4.7-inch screen, and one with a 5.5-inch screen -- will be the most popular ever. (The current iPhone 5S has a 4-inch screen.)
"The iPhone will now definitely have its largest quarter ever in Q4 this year, and its biggest year," Jan Dawson, an independent telecom analyst, wrote in a note to reporters after Apple's event. "It will significantly move the needle on shipments, and will further dent Samsung’s shipments in the coming months."
Perhaps that's why Apple stock, which hit record highs recently, didn't even dip significantly when Cook said that Apple Watch won't be available until after Christmas, missing out on the most important shopping season of the year.
Apple Watch isn't a sure hit. It's expensive, starting at $350, and you need an iPhone 5 or later to use it. And Apple needs to convince us that it's something that will actually make our lives better. No easy feat, to be sure. Plenty of journalists and commentators weren't convinced after watching the unveiling today.
Great news: The iWatch comes with many apps that are smaller, less functional, and more difficult to control than their iPhone counterparts.
— Jason O. Gilbert (@gilbertjasono) September 9, 2014
The Apple Watch is an imperfect vanity gadget for insecure status-seekers. It will be an enormous hit.
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) September 9, 2014