Put down that iPhone: Apple's obstacle to sell the Apple Watch

Why buy something that the iPhone already does? Why put the beloved iPhone out of sight when for many it brings comfort? What's the point of having an expensive iPhone just to make the Apple Watch work?


Walk down any street in a major city and look around. If there are lots of pedestrians striding purposefully, chances are a few of them have an iPhone in hand. They may be looking at it when they should be watching where they're going, or merely keeping it handy should some notification arrive. Always having the iPhone in hand seems to be ingrained in the daily life of many owners.

The Apple Watch is a second screen, a tiny one at that, for the iPhone. It needs the phone to do most things, and is intended to let wearers keep the iPhone in a pocket or bag. Notifications and calls to the iPhone hit the Apple Watch, and owners can deal with them while leaving the phone out of sight (and hand).

Additional Apple Watch coverage: CNET Apple Watch review | Cool Apple Watch accessories to help you customize it | Want to pre-order Apple Watch? You'll have to do it online | How the Apple Watch will (and should) change your iPhone habits

That's part of the draw for those already planning to buy the watch. The idea of just glancing at the wrist and seeing what's what while leaving the phone tucked away is appealing to some.

A couple of my family members have seldom had their iPhones out of their hand as long as they've owned one. Years ago everyone got used to seeing them attached to their phones at family gatherings. When other family members recently asked if they would put the iPhone away to use an Apple Watch, they were met with looks of discomfort.

This group may prove a hard sell for Apple. These folks have constantly carried their iPhone in hand for so long that they don't want to put them away. And if they aren't willing to do that they have absolutely no use for an Apple Watch.

Apple has to be careful not to hard sell the Watch to these die-hard iPhone owners. If it convinces some of them to put the phone away and they buy a Watch, they'd better like it. If they don't, Apple will have broken their practice, perhaps even their need, of always having the iPhone in hand. That would be like showing your most loyal customer base that the iPhone is not as vital as they think.