Your Apple Watch Has a Life Span: Its Maker Says Three Years

Announcement Comes Nine Days Before The Device’s First Birthday

April 24,2015 was a big day for Apple and its fans. It was the launch of the Apple Watch. If you read the company’s environment page on Thursday, however, you might be a bit surprised to learn that Apple thinks you will only keep that watch for three years.

In fact, if you happen to be one of the customers who spent thousands on the most expensive version, you might be downright upset.

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Where Apple Gets Its Data

Apple’s environment page on the company’s website, called Apps for Earth, is generally focused on the environmental impact of its devices resulting from the manufacture, transport, sale, and recycling processes. In determining this impact, Apple has to take into account how long the average consumer keeps a device before replacing it or selling it to someone else.

The data is based on the original purchaser’s actual and modeled behavior, according to Apple. While Apple may have a vast amount of data to determine the life span of its other devices, it is odd that with the Apple Watch only in use for a little less than a year, the company is able to lump its life span in with the iPad and iPhone. Obviously, Apple is using modeled data, not actual customer behavior, and here is how that information reads.

“Daily usage patterns are specific to each product and are a mixture of actual and modeled customer use data…Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for MacOS and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices.”

Toward More Accurate WatchOS Data

Apple is, however, currently tracking the power consumed and the daily usage patterns of WatchOS users, probably as a means of refining the predictions further.

Right now, the company is using data based on how many iOS consumers have also purchased an Apple Watch, while counting on the same behavior patterns.

Is It A Watch Or A Device?

The three-year life span prediction does lend credibility to those who argue that the Apple Watch is misnamed. It is not really a watch, they say; it is a wearable device.

Other timepieces that fall into the same price range as the WatchOS are certainly not used and discarded within the three-year span. They are purchased for a lifetime.

Guy Semon, the general director of Tag Heuer, a high-end watch manufacturer, was interviewed by Wired last year. “Apple watch is not a watch, it is a connected device on the wrist. There is a big difference. Why? Because this one looks good,” he stated as he held up a company product worth $5,400. “Better finishing, design. This is not an iPhone. You buy an iPhone and in three years you put it in the trash. But not a watch. You have to keep a watch.”

Consumers might disagree with Semon’s view.

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Decrease In Conventional Watch Sales

It was reported by Bloomberg at the end of 2015 that the export of Swiss watches to the U.S. was at a six-year low. While the news agency cited many causes for this, one reason for the decline in the sales of Swiss made wristwatches was the popularity of Apple watches which are competing with lower-priced timepieces from European manufacturers.

Time Will Tell

It remains to be seen if Apple’s prediction of a three-life span for the Apple watch holds true. Certainly, it may be for the lower-end watch products. If someone has spent $17,000 on the top version, however, that’s a lot of money to spend on a watch that will be replaced three years later.

[Photo by Pablo Cuadra/Getty Images]