After todays event we know more about the Apple Watch (check out our cheat sheet below for all the new stuff from the presentation just finished).
The smart watch category is already well catered for with a selection available from many different vendors, including some second and maybe even third generation devices. So will Apple’s offering make a dent in the market or has it arrived too late?
So far sales have been relatively disappointing for manufacturers so there’s still plenty of time for Apple to join in. The smartwatch category is still in its infancy and remember smartphones were available long before the iPhone appeared, and tablet computers were around years before the iPad, and look how those worked out for Apple.
The Cupertino tech giant is unashamedly selling fashion these days. With their acquisition of Beats last year and now watches that have an identical feature set, yet with such a range of prices for basically the same product it’s clear they want to ramp up the lust for their products.
The three Apple Watch ‘Collections’ (Sport, Steel and Edition) have their own price structures and fit with Apple’s usual Good, Better, Best thinking.
But it remains to be seen if the public believes that an expensive Apple Watch can have the same prestige as a luxury brand like Rolex. And while all this fashion focus will undoubtedly boost the image for some, it may well turn the more pragmatic off of the brand completely.
Most challenging is the fact that this is a tech product. Buy a Rolex and it will be as useful today as it is when you hand it down to your grandson 50 years from now. You’ll buy an Apple Watch next month clear in the knowledge it’s going to be awkwardly out of date this time next year.
So is this just another flashy gadget that you’re going to have to (inductively) charge up every night, or could it be genuinely useful? If you’re not in it for the fashion, can you justify even the base model price for the functionality?
As good as modern smartphones are there’s still that friction of taking them out of your pocket and unlocking them before you can control something around your home. What if walking into a room triggered controls for that space to automatically offer themselves on your wrist?
If a smart watch means taking your phone out of your pocket or bag much less over the course of a day just to read notifications and use Siri alone, would that time saved be enough to make you buy one?
If the Apple Watch replaces your house keys and maybe your car keys in the future will that pique your interest enough? Apple Pay via the watch could mean not having to take your wallet out of you pocket much either and links with the airlines should mean your watch is your boarding pass too.
Success or Failure
Apple’s best chance of beating the competition here depends, as ever, on doing a better job. Their famed attention to detail and UI expertise should give them an advantage in this new category. It has its own user interface challenges but understanding them has been Apple’s strength in the past. We’ll soon know how the ‘Glances’ and other features work in reality.
But Google haven’t stood still and their Android Wear program has been developing a pace. Gone is the clunky Google design of old and they are nipping at Apple’s heals now.
Smart Watch and crowd funding darling Pebble have just launched their latest device – Pebble Time, a cheaper colour e-paper watch that features an always on display and week long battery life.
Incredibly over 80% of Apple’s revenue now comes from the iPhone and iPad, so it’s little wonder they are looking to the capitalise on new products in the iOS ecosystem. And remember the Apple Watch needs an iPhone from the last few years to function, currently only iPhone 5 and above owners need apply.
Looking at the chart above you can see the entire Mac computer line currently accounts for less than 10% of Apples revenue so it’s hard to see a Watch making a huge impact on income. A few million units sold may be a roaring success for most companies, but if you are Apple in 2015 you’ll need that to be tens of millions. And Apple can lose focus quickly when somethings not performing (Apple TV owners have gone without any love for a few years now for example).
Only time will tell if Apple has another hit on its hands – or another Lisa.
Here’s what we learnt from today’s presentation:
- Available : Pre-order from 10th April (available 24th)
- Price : 38mm from £299
- Price : 42mm from £339
- Battery Life: “all day battery life….up to 18 hours”
- Use it to take calls
- Use it to read email
- Use it to control Apple TV
- Use it as viewfinder for iPhone Camera
- Listen to music without your iPhone
- iOS 8.2 with Watch support released today
- New 12″ ‘MacBook’
- Thinest Lightest MacBook ever
- 9 hour battery life
- Starting at $1,299
- Available from 12th April
- Apple TV reduced to £59
- 700 Million iPhones now Sold
- Pay Now Accepted in 700,000 places in the USA
- More products that support HomeKit rolling out during the year
- Open Source ResearchKit launched to help medical research