Is time money? Apple Watch and Twitter reactions
The watch has, over the years, been viewed anywhere from a utilitarian object that tells time to a treasured family heirloom. As Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis in the Sixth Sense) points out to the young Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment) “Your dad gave you that watch as a present just before he went away.” And in the movie White House Down, a gold pocket watch that Mary Todd Lincoln supposedly once gave to Abraham Lincoln to remind him he only had so much time to make a difference, even saves the life of (fictional) President Sawyer (played by Jamie Foxx). Watches, to many consumers, are ticking with memories and the pride of bygone generations.
And into this world stepped Apple Computer. The sleek design, the re-imagined knob (“digital crown”) and all the other bells and whistles of the Apple Watch have garnered accolades. At the same time, brickbats have also ensued – it is not an autonomous device, and to folks like me who don’t wear a watch and never have, it is unlikely that technological advancements will (yet) influence sartorial tastes. My purpose in this column however, is not to debate the pluses and minuses of the device. Rather, I am simply reporting data gathered from tweets posted during the week following Apple’s announcement. And the data are all in pictorial form, allowing the reader to draw his or her own conclusions. Before reading too much into these pictures, one must be cognizant of an obvious caveat – such analyses are purely for exploratory purposes and should not be used for final decision making.
The first series of pictures provide a textual analysis of the tweets using Wordle. Much like the analysis involved in my previous post on Beyoncé, these pictures are generated by taking the tweets and putting them into Wordle in order to see which ones get more mentions. Unlike the Beyoncé post that looked at tweets before and after her album announcement, the pictures below provide a comparison across different brand-related tweets (Apple Watch, Samsung Galaxy Gear and Gear, Pebble Watch, Moto 360, FitBit and Nike Fuel) in the same time period (Sept. 9-17, 2014, although a majority of the tweets are from the latter part of that period). Below, I first offer a comparison of the tweets regarding the Apple Watch and Samsung’s smart watch. Again, thank you to my RA Yogesh Kansal, for his work in generating and analyzing these data.
Figure 1: Apple Watch related tweets
Figure 2: Samsung Watch related tweets
The two pictures provide a study in contrasts. The Apple Watch tweets are focused largely on the attributes of the product– design, functionality, technology– and some negatives: accidents, warnings, etc. For a new product, the consumer’s attention to its attributes is a necessary and important accomplishment for a firm. On the other hand, Samsung’s messages appear to dwell less on attributes. This may be understandable given that it has been in the marketplace longer than the Apple Watch. What might be concerning for Samsung watchers (no pun intended!) is that there is a lot of attention paid to its competitor, Apple, and its products. This asymmetry between Apple and Samsung might have implications for how much each product needs to compete for consumer “mindshare.”
Next, I provide the tweets for the other smart watch brands we examined– the Pebble Watch and Moto 360.
Figure 3: Pebble Watch related tweets
Figure 4: Moto 360 related tweets
The above pictures reflect competition-related concerns for Pebble but much less so for the Moto 360. Interestingly for the latter, while there is some reflection of the battery issues (“lacks longevity”), it is not as prominent as some reports suggest.
Finally, we provide the Wordles for the purely health-related devices – FitBit and Nike Fuel.
Figure 5: FitBit related tweets
Figure 6: Nike Fuel related tweets
Interestingly, these devices seem to be well-separated from the smart watch category. Messages regarding them focus mostly on the benefits that they aim to provide, with little competitive considerations. One way to look at this information is that the main challenge for these devices is to get themselves onto the wrists of consumers, because once they are there, the focus appears to be entirely on how to make the best of the device. It is also useful to note that the recent concerns with FitBit’s rash issues are not reflected prominently in these tweets.
I hope that the above pictures provide the reader with some insight into the smart watch market as it develops. A relevant question is whether one can draw inferences about how consumers view these different products on some common metric. To do this, Yogesh has created a “perceptual map” of the above 6 products. Here the relative distances between products is driven by the extent to which consumers use common terms across these products. So if the word “design” shows up in the tweets for both Samsung and Apple, this enhances the similarity between the two products. The more such words in common, the closer the products will be on the map. However, the axes of the map do not have any intrinsic meaning.
Figure 7: Perceptual map using tweets
In the above figure, the size of the bubble represents the number of tweets associated with the product. We see that in this time period, Apple has the most tweets, followed by FitBit, Moto360 and then the other brands. Importantly, the 3 smartwatches – Apple, Samsung and Pebble– are perceived to be similar to one another, as are the two fitness products FitBit and Nike Fuel. The Moto 360 seems to have “differentiated” itself – at least on this map – from the other brands pictured. Remember, however, that the picture is based on data from a limited time period. Looking at the same set of brands over a different time frame might provide a more complete picture of Twitter-based conversations regarding these brands.
The smart watch wars are still in their early days. Only time will tell how this story unfolds.