After the frenzy, Apple Watch sales may disappoint

Apple watch clocking mixed reviews
Apple watch clocking mixed reviews   

When was the last time that an Apple product was released that wasn't met with initial frenzy and shortages? I expect the Apple Watch to be greeted with the same level of demand on an initial basis.

I agree with Gene Munster at Piper Jaffrey that Apple Watch sales could top 1 million units in the first weekend. What concerns me, however, is the trajectory of sales AFTER Apple fans and early adopters snatch up this new device.

We are talking about a sea change in terms of how consumers interact with their cell devices and, so far, the demand for other smart-watch offerings has been less than spectacular. Because Apple is a marketing powerhouse and knows how to develop products that are easy to use, they will easily jump to the lead in the smart-watch race. However, being first doesn't mean that the world is ready to make this a must-have purchase.

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The watch will certainly provide significant revenues to the company. How much incremental revenue versus frenzied expectations is really the debate. At present, I think investors are overly enthusiastic about the Apple Watch.

For early adopters, fitness fanatics, and Apple fans, the necessary behavioral change will be an acceptable sacrifice. But I don't see a consumer environment ready for widespread Apple Watch adoption (or any smart watch). Convenience and ease of use is a selling point of the Apple watch to consumers. Nonetheless, requiring a phone to be tethered to the device for full operability combined with the need to charge the watch on a daily basis strikes me as more inconvenient than many consumers are willing to tolerate.

As it stands right now in the wearable-device category, watches are ecosystem dependent. Samsung's watches work with Samsung devices. Apple's watch works with the iOS ecosystem. What happens when a device manufacturer comes up with a thinner product with a longer battery life that is easily connected to any ecosystem at a lower price point? The premium that Apple will charge for their watch will be less acceptable.

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Android watchmakers so far have delivered less than overwhelmingly exciting devices but that won't last forever. At some point, someone in the Android space is going to get it right and will likely price the product at 40 percent less than Apple. Pebble seems to be doing just fine selling a product less rich with features at a discounted price.

Sure, Apple products are often blockbusters (i.e., the iPhone) but occasionally they do have a product that isn't a home run. Apple has sold plenty of mini iPads but it hasn't been Earth-shattering. Apple TV continues to be a work in progress. My concern is that investors are buying into the belief that sales of the Apple Watch will be sustained after the initial launch – and that these expectations are priced into the stock.

As a firm that invests in Apple, our expectations are muted. If this new device is half as popular as the iPad, it will be a huge success. The problem Is that the expectations are so high that anything less than blockbuster will likely be seen as a stumble and investors need to recognize that this sentiment shift is clearly possible.

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Commentary by Michael A. Yoshikami, the CEO and founder of Destination Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, California. He is also a CNBC contributor.

Disclosure: Destination Wealth Management buys Apple for clients. Neither the firm, nor Michael Yoshikami, own any of the other stocks mentioned in this article.