If you are among the 19 million people Apple predicts will buy an Apple Watch, I have some bad news for you — I’m betting there is an important feature missing from the watch that’s going to drive you nuts.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy one. In fact, I’m ordering one myself. However, this paradox illustrates an important lesson for the way companies design their products.
Rarely are v.1 products very good. How is it, then, that some products thrive despite flagrant shortcomings?
Meet Mr. Kano
To find out why you’ll likely be disappointed by the Apple Watch, meet Professor Noriaki Kano. In the 1980s Professor Kano developed a model to explain a theory of customer satisfaction.
Kano believes products have particular attributes, which are directly responsible for users’ happiness. He discovered that some qualities matter more than others. Kano describes three product attribute types — (loosely translated from Japanese as) delightful, linear, and hygienic features.
A delightful feature is an attribute of a product that customers love but do not expect. For example, if the Apple Watch madeyou coffee every morning, that would be a delightfully surprising feature.
A linear feature, on the other hand, is one users expect. More of that quality increases satisfaction. Battery life is an example of a linear feature of the Apple Watch. You trust that it will last all day but the more juice the battery has, the less you need to charge it, and the happier you are.
Customers are typically able to articulate the linear attributes of a product - “I want it to have long battery life” - whereas by definition they can’t tell they want a delightful feature until they’ve seen it in action. Like knowing the punchline of a joke, if you know what to expect it fails to delight.
Finally, hygienic or “basic” features are must-haves. Customers not only expect these attributes, they depend on them. If the Apple Watch is bad at telling time, for example, you would undoubtedly be very ticked (tocked) off.
Ellen DeGeneres tweeted a sardonic comment that perfectly demonstrates what happens when we make a basic feature sound like a delighter.
Joking aside, Apple CEO Tim Cook knows just how important telling time is for an expensive timepiece. Cook emphasizes that the device is accurate within 50 milliseconds. In addition, when the battery is almost depleted, the watch kicks into “Power Reserve” mode, shutting down everything but the ability to see the time.
Obviously, Apple understands telling time is a hygienic feature. However, when it comes to this basic feature, something is still missing — which finally brings me to what will likely annoy you about the Apple Watch.
A basic attribute of any watch is that it allows wearers to see the time all the time. With a regular watch, checking the time couldn’t be easier. You only need to glance down to know what time it is — not so with the Apple Watch.
To save battery life, the watch goes dark when it thinks you’re not using it. To turn it back on, you have to shake the device with enough momentum to, in Apple’s words, “Activate on Wrist Raise.”
Early Apple Watch reviewer John Gruber, wrote about his experience wearing the device during the end of a meeting with a friend. “It got to 3:00 or so, and I started glancing at my watch every few minutes. But it was always off … the only way I could check the time was to artificially flick my wrist or to use my right hand to tap the screen — in either case, a far heavier gesture than the mere glance I’d have needed with my regular watch.”
Who hasn’t sat across from an overly gabby colleague wondering whether you’ll be late to your next meeting? If we’ve bothered to wear a watch, we expect to be able to see the time at a glance. But if telling the time on your Apple Watch requires a spastic wrist jolt, you’ll curse it.
Gruber continued, “... for regular watch wearers, it’s going to take some getting used to, and it’s always going to be a bit of an inconvenience compared to an always-glance-able watch. It’s a fundamental conflict: a regular watch never turns off, but a display like Apple Watch’s cannot always stay on.”
The problem is significant enough that other smart watch makers already see Apple’s failing as an opportunity. The recently announced Pebble Time for example uses a low-power color e-paper display and never goes dark.
You’ll Still Buy It
Of course, all this doesn’t mean you’re not going to buy the watch. Apple may very well make the wake feature so sensitive that few people are troubled by it. After all, even an obvious wrist shake is better than the inconvenience of checking the time by taking out your phone. However, greater turn-on sensitivity will come at the expense of battery life, a compromise consumers aren’t going to be happy about. To avoid disappointment, keep your expectations low and be prepared to miss some basic features you’d expect from even a cheap watch.
Remember, in the beginning the iPhone had its problems. Apple’s choice of AT&T as the exclusive service provider for the first few generations of the iPhone meant more dropped calls and poor reception. The device was often loathed for its inability to deliver the basic Kano feature customers expected most from a phone, namely, to complete a call!
Over time, the technology improved, but why did people put up with these seemingly fatal flaws for so long? Here again, the Kano model helps us better understand the mindset of consumers.
People kept using (and often praising) the iPhone because the delight factor made up for it’s lack of basic attributes. Mainly, Apple's App Store and its near infinite variety of nifty solutions provide a constant stream of delightful features even Steve Jobs could never have imagined.
The iPhone still doesn't make coffee, but it does so many other surprising things you didn’t know it could do when you bought it (from checking your heart beat to identifying constellations) that you overlook its flaws.
As for the Apple Watch, over time Apple will no doubt fix quirks in the first generation just as it did in subsequent iPhone editions. Ultimately, better battery life or alternative screens will keep future versions lit throughout the day. But the real delighter behind the Apple Watch, like the iPhone, will be the apps. Cook recently sent an email to Apple employees announcing that more than 1,000 apps have already been submitted.
Expect future generations of the Apple Watch to have more delightful features customers currently don’t expect like new apps and other improvements. My money is betting that the Apple Watch 2 will come with a forward facing camera, which wearers will discover makes taking pictures even easier and faster than using their phones. And it adds an element of delight every time they take a surprisingly good shot.
We have a love / hate relationship with technology and the Apple Watch will be no exception. By applying Kano’s model, companies can overcome the unavoidable deficiencies that come with new products by building-in features that continue to surprise and impress.
Here’s the Gist:
- Dr. Noriaki Kano developed a revealing model for understanding how various product features affect customer happiness.
- A “delightful” feature is an attribute of the product customers love but do not expect -- for example, new apps in the app store.
- A “linear” feature is one the user expects and more of that quality increases satisfaction -- think more battery life.
- A “hygienic” feature is a must-have. Customers not only expect these attributes, they depend on them -- for example, reliably telling the time on a watch.
- To save battery life, Apple designed the Apple Watch to only display the time when it thinks you’re looking at it. This violates a hygienic feature and will annoy users.
- However, like the first versions of the iPhone, users will forgive the watch’s flaws if the delightful features (namely the apps in the App store) knock their socks off.
- Products can win markets by ensuring their “delighter” features compensate for flaws.
Top Consumer Psychology Articles
- The One Fitness App That Hooked Me For Good
- Here's How Fortnite 'Hooked' Millions
- How Apps Can Shape Your Future Self
- How Netflix's Customer Obsession Created a Customer Obsession
- Want to Design User Behavior? Pass the 'Regret Test' First
- How to Trigger Product Usage that Sticks
- How to Get People to Help Each Other, Online and Off
- Here's How Amazon's Alexa Hooks You
- How to Use Psychology to Make Persuasive Video
- How to Use Personality Science to Drive Online Conversions
- The Unbelievable Future of Habit-Forming Technology
- The Secret Marketing Power of Evolutionary Psychology
- Don’t Ask People What They Want, Watch What They Do
- How Cognitive Biases Can Help (and Hurt) Your Business
- What Most People Don't Know About Behavioral Design
- How to Start a Career in Behavioral Design
- Your World is Full of Placebo Buttons (and That's a Good Thing)
- How to Build Technology that Feels Like a Friend
- 3 Pillars of the Most Successful Tech Products
- Here's How to Ethically Manipulate Other People
- How Two Companies Hooked Customers On Products They Rarely Use
- How to Hook Users in 3 Steps: An Intro to Habit Testing
- Die Dashboards, Die! Why Conversations Will Reinvent Software
- The Secret to Sending Emails and Notifications That Work
- How to Win Your Competition’s Customers
- Hooked for Good: How Habit-Forming Products Improve Lives
- Good Products Start With Good Questions
- Human + A.I. = Your Digital Future
- Why 'Assistant-As-App' Might Be the Next Big Tech Trend
- People Don’t Want Something Truly New, They Want the Familiar Done Differently.
- 4 Ways to Win Your Competitor's Customer Habits (Slides)
- Here’s Why You'll Hate the Apple Watch (and the Important Business Lesson You Need to Know)
- The Secret Psychology of Snapchat
- The Psychology of Notifications: How to Send Triggers that Work
- How Technology Tricks You Into Tipping More
- The Limits of Loyalty: When Habits Change, You're Toast
- 4 Ways to Use Psychology to Win Your Competition's Customers
- The Real Reason “Stupid” Startups Raise So Much Money
- The Psychology Behind Why We Can't Stop Messaging
- The Psychology of a Billion-Dollar Enterprise App: Why is Slack so Habit-Forming?
- Framing Reward is as Important as Reward Itself
- A Free Course on User Behavior
- It’s Not All Fun And Games: The Pros and Cons of Gamification at Work
- Getting Traction: How to Hook New Users
- Designing for Behavior Change Book Review
- The Sneaky Trick Behind the Explosive Growth of the Kardashian Game
- How Successful Companies Design for Users' Multi-Device Lives
- The Link Between Habits and User Satisfaction
- What Triggers The Best Word of Mouth Marketing?
- What Tech Companies Can Learn from Rehab
- The Secrets of Addictive Online Auctions
- Teach or Hook? What's the Real Goal of Online Education?
- Using Mind Control to Raise Startup Cash
- How To Build Habits In A Multi-Device World
- How To Cope with Your Insane Jealousy Of The WhatsApp Deal
- Why Do Fads Fade? The Inevitable Death Of Flappy Bird
- You'd Be Surprised By What Really Motivates Users
- Nostalgia: A Product Designer's Secret Weapon
- How You Can Help Users Change Habits
- Is “Lean Startup” Right for Your Idea?
- Hunting for Habits: Keying in on smart design to make a product irresistible
- Are Companies Too Obsessed With Growth? How to Measure Habits
- Refresh: The App a Secret Agent Would Love
- Angel or Devil: Who’s Really Investing In Your Start-Up?
- In 10 Years, We Won't Use Personal Technology
- 4 Simple Things I Did to Control My Bad Tech Habits
- "Yes, And": The Two Words that Created a #1 App
- From Laid to Paid: How Tinder Set Fire to Online Dating
- What if In-App Purchases Came to Real Life?
- Hooking Users One Snapchat at a Time
- How To Save Your Startup From The “Spotlight Effect”
- Bible App: Getting 100 Million Downloads is More Psychology Than Miracles
- How to Boost Desire Using the Psychology of Scarcity
- Marketplaces & The Curse of the Network Effect
- Today's Behaviors, Tomorrow's Startups
- Venture Capital and The Superstitious Investor
- The Future is Driven by Interface Changes
- Why Business is Addicted to Habits
- Viral Loops Or Viral 'Oops'?
- Making a Marketplace
- What Killed Turntable.fm?
- What You Don't Know About Human Intuition Can Hurt You
- Designing to Reward our Tribal Sides
- New Video - "Hooked: Building Habit-Forming Products"
- How Technology is Like Bug Sex
- Ways To Get People To Do Things They Don’t Want To Do
- The Network Effect Isn’t Good Enough
- Mass Persuasion, One User At A Time
- How Investment Drives Engagement (Slides)
- Getting Your Product Into the Habit Zone
- Where Have The Users Gone?
- Infinite Scroll: The Web’s Slot Machine
- Designing User Habits Video
- Psychology of Sports: How Sports Infect Your Brain
- This is Your Brain On Boarding: How to Turn Visitors Into Users
- User Investment: Make Your Users Do the Work
- Behavior by Design Video
- When Designing for Good Is Bad
- Stop Building Apps, Start Building User Behaviors
- The Next Secrets of the Internet
- User Growth and Engagement: A Hacker Metric
- Spotting the Next Facebook: Why Emotions are Big Business
- The Billion Dollar Mind Trick: An Intro to Triggers
- Why Everyone Hates I.T. People
- Hooking Users In 3 Steps: An Intro to Habit Testing
- Abolish The Reference Check
- Variable Rewards: Want To Hook Users? Drive Them Crazy
- How to Design Behavior (The Behavior Change Matrix)
- How To Design For “Normals”
- Hooks: An Intro on How to Manufacture Desire
- User Habits: Why Startups Must Be Behavior Experts
- What Is, and Is Not, Your Product's Job
- Pinterest’s Obvious Secret
- Personalized eCommerce Is Already Here, You Just Don’t Recognize It
- Where is the Web Going?
- The Developer Divide: When Great Companies Can't Hire
- Being a Quitter Makes You a Good Entrepreneur
- Behavior by Design
- Why You Should Run Your Business Barefoot
- Are you a Startup Star, Wacko, or Wannabe?