Will Apple Watch bring wearable tech into the mainstream?
Perhaps the biggest surprise with the debut of the new Apple Watch on Tuesday was that its brand name didn’t start with the letter "i." Most reviews gave the device high marks for raising the design bar for smartwatches. Critics pointed out that full functionality requires the device to be wirelessly tethered to an iPhone. Ultimately, however, it is consumers not critics that matter. Has Apple once again created a market where one previously didn’t exist?
As Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst at The NPD Group, pointed out on his company’s blog, smartwatches have largely been "products without problems to solve." According to NPD, sales of smartwatches totaled just over $130 million in the past year.
In an opinion piece on the CNN website, Jeff Yang of The Wall Street Journal cited stats that showed only two million smartwatches were purchased over the 52-weeks ending in March compared to 964 million smartphones. Those numbers, he wrote, are "the difference between a niche product and an emerging necessity."
While the Apple Watch may not rise to the level of technological or fashion necessity overnight, Katy Huberty, a Morgan Stanley analyst, told Bloomberg News that Apple may sell as many as 60 million devices in the first year.
Apple is following a familiar game plan to rule the wearable tech roost. As it has done in the past, the tech giant didn’t rush to be first to the market with its product. It is counting on superior design, brand equity and marketing muscle to drive sales past its rivals in the space.
Forrester Research, via Information Week, predicts Apple will help to legitimize smartwatches with its entry and then, in short order (2016), dominate the market. Forrester bases its optimism on Apple accomplishing the same feat with MP3 players (iPod) and smartphones (iPhone).
The Apple Watch, which will launch in early 2015, comes in three models (Watch, Sport and Edition) and two sizes (38 and 42 millimeters). The devices are made with polished or space black stainless steel, silver or space gray anodized aluminum and 18-karate rose or yellow gold cases. Apple has created 11 different bands for the Watch, including a sport band, link bracelet, leather loop, classic buckle, Milanese loop and more.
In true Apple fashion, the Watch will be priced at the top of the market with a starting point of $349. This compares to Samsung’s Gear 2 ($299.99) and Motorola’s Moto 360 ($250) and Sony’s SmartWatch 3 ($199.99).
- Apple Watch
- Apple Watch: A Smartwatch in Name Only – The NPD Group Blog
- Apple Watch: Start of a wearables revolution? – CNN
- Apple Watch Puts a Mini iPhone on Your Wrist – Strategy Analytics Blog
- Apple Made a Perfect Watch, But Needs to Decide What It’s Good For – Wired
- Apple Sticks to Premium Prices With Watch at $349 and Up – Bloomberg News
- Here’s the Apple Watch Next to All the Other Smartwatches – Bloomberg Businessweek
- Apple to Dominate Wearables Through 2016: Forrester – InformationWeek
Do you agree that smartwatches are “products without problems to solve”? Will Apple succeed in creating a mainstream market for its Watch where one previously didn’t exist?