The market doesn’t see smartphones as computers. They are fixated on the idea that it’s a toy, and behave as such. No smart investor would put money behind a company that produced one single hit toy that they’ve revamped slightly every year. But imagine the faith behind a toy manufacturer that is making all sorts of add ons and appendages to the old basic model!
Consumers use the iPhone as an always-connected computer with a great experience and high value. Investors see the iPhone as a trifle, and treat it (and Apple) accordingly.
In other words, in four years the wearables market might grow to be one-tenth the size of today’s smartphone market—in units shipped. Presumably the average selling price of wearable items will be a fraction of that of smartphones, meaning the dollar value of the wearables market is even more minuscule compared to the smartphone market.
All of which means that wearables, while dramatic and exciting and with huge potential to change people’s lives, are never going to rival smartphones in terms of market size. Same goes for smart TV boxes. These are interesting, fun areas of technological change. But the smartphone—that boring old Internet-connected 64-bit supercomputer in your pocket that just keeps improving year after year—is going to be the big dog in the tech world for years to come. Apple’s future success or failure will be dependent on the iPhone, and to a lesser extent the iPad, not on a smartwatch.
That’s exactly right. I’ve been saying this for a while: there is no industry, save maybe the oil business, that could yield the type of profits Apple is used to with the iPhone. And that points to a lot of disappointment in the eyes of Wall Street no matter what comes — unless Apple buys Exxon.