Apple CEO Tim Cook thinks it's only a matter of time before consumers come around to wanting the Apple Watch. Speaking with CNBC's Jim Cramer on Mad Money this evening, Cook compared public perception of his company's smartwatch to the original iPod and iPhone. The first iteration of each device drew heavy skepticism at first before being "viewed as an overnight success," as Cook put it.
"In a few years, we will look back and people will say, 'How could I have ever thought about not wearing this watch?'" he said. "Because it's doing so much for you. And then it will all of a sudden be an overnight success." Cook still very much believes in Apple's core vision of delivering products consumers didn't know they wanted. "We are going to give you things that you can’t live without," he added. "That you just don’t know you need today."
"We are going to give you things you can't live without."
Of course, while people had their doubts about the first iPhone, it was still largely seen as revolutionary to put a computer in your pocket. (People are still on the fence about the significance of the tablet, which is, at heart, a very large smartphone with less stellar sales performance.) So it's unclear whether Apple's overnight theory will hold true for the smartwatch.
Cook's comments, and his appearance on CNBC, are strategic moves to assuage investor fears. Apple is still generating enormous profits, but its most recent quarter marked the company's first year-over-year revenue decline in 13 years. Apple's stock took a heavy dive and has been sliding downward since. With iPhone sales slowing, the company's search for the next big and lucrative hardware product is fast becoming its most pressing problem. Whether the Apple Watch can fulfill that role largely depends on the eventual second-generation version, and how significant its improvements are.
It's worth noting that Apple Watch sales appear to be doing just fine. According to analyst estimates, Apple has sold around 12 million units in the device's first year on the market, outpacing the original iPhone two to one. That makes the Apple Watch a multi-billion dollar business, but Cook is leading a different Apple. The company is now the most valuable in the world, and any bumps in its business these days have more drastic effects. The Apple Watch may take off in a few years — and Cook may be proven right after all — but right now the lukewarm reception to the gadget has Apple on the defensive.