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The Apple Watch Seemed Better When We Knew Less About It


Like the rest of the internet, we follow Apple products. Frankly, it’s impossible not to. Avoiding a live blog or a review or an unboxing of an Apple product is as difficult as avoiding sketchy emails with stock tips, ads about the One Weird Trick to Do Something You Didn’t Want to Do Anyhow, and cat gifs. Always with the cat gifs. At any rate, these things that flood the internet are spectacular opportunities to do sentiment analysis: there’s oodles of data, it’s easily accessible, and everyone has an opinion. Here’s what we learned:

Women still like the watch more

Mens_Sent_AW Womens_Sent_AW
Men’s Sentiment Women’s Sentiment

When looked at intent to buy the Apple Watch seven months ago directly after Tim Cook’s original announcement. To put things scientifically: people were stoked. 74% of women not only liked the watch but actually wanted to purchase one. 56% of men had the exact same plan. Shiny new Apple things for everyone, in other words.

Fast forward to last weekend and things shade a bit darker. Men’s and women’s sentiment is still overall positive, but it’s nowhere near the giddy highs of September 2014. And remember: this is sentiment about the watch from observers and purchasers. We went from a majority of Twitter users wanting to buy the thing to a slim majority feeling positive about it at all.

Men are about 55% positive overall, which mirrors overall watch sentiment closely (56%). Women, on the other hand, still like the watch more than men, and were about 10% more positive and 10% less negative about the watch. We wouldn’t be surprised if the watch sold better among women than men, overall, based on what we’ve gleaned in both sentiment analysis jobs on the Apple Watch.

Men just won’t shut up about the watch

One of the interesting things we discovered looking at sentiment wasn’t sentiment in the first place. It was just the raw numbers of dudes who tweeted about the Apple Watch:


That’s kind of crazy, right? 70% of all tweets, be they positive, negative, or neutral, were from guys. That’s a staggering number when you consider there are actually 1.6 million more female Twitter users than male ones.

It’s all about apps

Whether a user liked or hated the Apple Watch, odds are they were tweeting about apps. Good ones, bad ones, buggy ones, and, especially, the fitness ones.

Pos_AW Neg_AW
Positive Reasons Negative Reasons

More than half of the positive sentiment around the watch was tied to apps. People seemed to love the fitness apps–their accuracy, especially, came up over and over again–and the fact they could do stuff like present boarding passes and buy coffee with their wrist doodad.

As for the negative sentiment, app performance and selection ranked highest (after people grousing they never got the watch in the first place). Negative reasons varied more significantly than positive ones as well, with no dominant narrative taking place.

How we did it

We analyzed a over 30,000 random tweets with the hashtag #applewatch or the words “apple watch” somewhere in there. First, we asked the crowd to help us filter out the chaff, stuff like people spamming the hashtag with their ska band’s new musical atrocity or tweens feverishly retweeting Bieber. Then, we looked into sentiment. We presented our crowd with each tweet and asked them if the message in question was positive, negative, neutral, or both, then if the tweet contained actual positive or negative sentiment, what the reason for that feeling was.

Image credit: Yasunobu Ikeda, CC BY 2.0

Justin Tenuto

Justin Tenuto

Justin writes things at Figure Eight. He enjoys books about robots and aliens, baking bread, and is pretty sure he can beat you at pingpong.