San Francisco–“I’ve been wanting to do this since I was 5 years old,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook today as he unveiled more details about the tech company’s smartwatch, in a highly choreographed presentation here.
Among the details revealed ahead of a April 24 launch in the United States, United Kingdom and China were the Apple Watch’s pricepoints: a basic stainless steel model begins at $349 up to $1,099 depending upon the case size, bracelet/strap etc. There’s even an 18K gold version which will retail beginning at $10,000.
As for functions, Cook showed off the watch’s “comprehensive health and fitness companion,” with a Glances feature to check the calendar, music, even heart rate. Wearers can receive reminders about exercise time and if they’ve been sitting too long. The dial displays calendar entries, weather, time, stopwatch, etc. Wearers can also use their iPhones to see apps and download them.
The Apple Watch “is the most personal device we’ve ever created.” Cook said. “It’s not just with you, it’s on you.”
Although no longer a secret, the price and other details were lapped up by social media, blogosphere etc. An early criticism centers on the 18-hour battery life which most quartz movements outstrip by half a year.
Then there’s the question whether Apple will be successful when other recent wearables of note, such as Google Glass and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, were basically bombs.
According to Strategy Analytics, a research firm, 4.6 million smartwatches were shipped last year. “Analysts estimate that Apple could sell anywhere from 10 million to 32 million Apple Watches in 2015. By comparison, Apple sold about 15 million iPads in 2010, after an April launch.”
In a preview of another study scheduled to come out in April, Accent Marketing surveyed consumers about wearables. Four out of five wearable consumers say they do not plan to buy the Apple watch though 54% said Apple Watch is an exciting use of technology.
Other key findings in the Accent survey included
- 51% of wearable consumers believe the Apple watch interface will be too small to use
- Almost 40% (38%) of men say they are most excited about wearable tech watches
- Nearly two-thirds (64%) of wearable consumers surveyed use their wearable tech device daily
- Two out of three consumers want access to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter via wearable devices
- 75% of Millennials believe wearable tech devices are a new way consumer brands can engage with customers
“We were interested that wearable technology consumers would form strong opinions about new technology introductions, specifically the Apple watch, prior to its availability,” stated John Hoholik, chief engagement and solution officer for Accent Marketing. “Our data shows that brand and product engagement can positively or negatively influence purchase decisions even long before a product is in market. It reinforces that companies need to offer and deliver an omnichannel engagement strategy early and often to build long-lasting relationships, as soon as consumers are exposed to a product, even a concept, all through the purchase cycle.”
Apple has taken a luxury approach with its Apple Watch marketing, such as placing a 12-page advertising section in Vogue. Moreover, Apple hired top executives from luxury brands to help guide this luxury leap: including former Yves Saint Laurent Group CEO Paul Deneve; ex-Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts; and Patrick Pruniaux, vice president of sales at TAG Heuer.
Watch Brands: ‘Pay Close Attention’
Many believe the Apple Watch could be a game changer. Andrew Block, president of Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry and former executive vice president at Tourneau noted: “First time watch buyers entering the market have been left with the choice between fashion brands from Fossil or traditional brands like Tissot with not much else to choose from. The Apple Watch broadens the offerings in the entry level category which will eventually benefit the entire watch industry.”
Then there is the question of who will fix an Apple Watch if something goes wrong. Apple is in discussions with the American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute about enabling its members, who fix high-end watches, to repair Apple Watches, said Jordan Ficklin, the trade group’s executive director.
Apple is “using the language of watchmaking, not the language of technology to promote this product,” Jordan Ficklin, executive director of American Watchmakers-Clockmakers Institute told CBS. “The competition will rise to the challenge. If I was a watch brand competing in the under $500 market, I would certainly be paying close attention.