Is the Apple Watch For You?

Back in September, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch at a big event, which also saw the introduction of the latest iPhone models. Six months later, the company just held another event talking about it mo...
Is the Apple Watch For You?
Written by Chris Crum
  • Back in September, Apple unveiled the Apple Watch at a big event, which also saw the introduction of the latest iPhone models. Six months later, the company just held another event talking about it more, and mostly telling us things we already knew about it.

    This time, however, we got the prices and the release date. Let’s get those out of the way. All models will be available for pre-order and for trying on beginning on April 10 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US. You’ll need an appointment to try one on. The devices will be available online or by reservation in Apple’s retail stores and authorized re-sellers in China and Japan on April 24.

    As you’re probably aware from the first event, there are three collections. Each is available in 38 mm and 42 mm.

    Prices are as follows:

    Apple Watch Sport: $349 and $399
    Apple Watch: from $549 to $1,099
    Apple Watch Edition: from $10,000 to who knows?

    Yes, the cheap end of the high-end watches is $10K. CEO Tim Cook really prefers the Mickey Mouse graphic on his own Apple Watch, according to his presentation. This would definitely look killer on a ten thousand dollar watch.

    As you also know from the original event, all models are highly customizable. Each has various models, band options, and you can always tailor the display to your liking. Feel free to browse around the company’s website for a look at all of your options.

    But let’s face it, it’s not how these watches look that will make or break them. It’s what they can do, and how much consumers value that. I can tell you right now, they’re not going to be for everyone. Many will be perfectly content with their phones and/or other existing devices.

    What will make Apple Watch stand out is really only limited to what developers are able to get out of it, and according to Apple, there are already thousands of apps ready to go for the device’s release. How many of them are specifically enhanced by the watch form factor is a question that remains unanswered. How many of these apps will be better on a watch than on a phone or a tablet?

    Well, the health category is an obvious area where it can make a real difference, so it’s no surprise that Apple (and other smart watch makers) play this up. In fact, health was a major theme of today’s event even before the watch was mentioned. Apple also announced ResearchKit, a new open source software framework for medical and health research, aimed at providing doctors and scientists with more data. Utilizing this are some new apps aiding research on asthma, breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

    Many health apps will take advantage of the watch, but the device itself even goes out of its way to get you more active. It even sends you notifications (which you can opt out of) telling you if you’ve been sitting for too long.

    “Apple Watch encourages you to sit less, move more and get some exercise every day,” the company says, “The Activity app provides a simple visual snapshot of your daily activity with three rings that measure active calories burned, brisk activity and how often you’ve stood up to take a break from sitting during the day. Apple Watch provides the detailed metrics you need during dedicated workout sessions for the most popular activities, such as walking, running and cycling through the Workout app. With an accelerometer, a built-in heart rate sensor, GPS and Wi-Fi from your iPhone, Apple Watch smartly uses the best sensors for different types of motion and provides a comprehensive picture of your all-day activity and workouts. The Activity app on iPhone collects your activity and workout data from Apple Watch so you can see your history in greater detail. Apple Watch uses this history to suggest personalized activity goals, reward fitness milestones and keep you motivated.”

    Beyond health, Apple wants the watch to be “integral to your life.” In other words, how did you ever get by without this thing. So, of course, you can communicate with people using various apps. You can check your email. You can browse Instagram. You can use Apple Pay at stores, and pull up your boarding pass at the aiport. You can even receive and make calls. You can do a lot of things…you can already do with your smartphone.

    And that’s probably the biggest problem with Apple Watch. Most of what you can do with it, you can already do with a smartphone, and worse yet, to do most of it, you still have to have your iPhone with you.

    It would be one thing if it replaced your phone. If you had your phone’s capabilities at your wrist, and no longer needed to carry your phone around, I could see this being a hot item. Many would still prefer the phone, but some subset of people would be happy to “upgrade” to a more light-weight experience. With this, it’s just another thing you’re carrying around, even if it’s actually wrapped around you. It’s also another thing to charge.

    As others have pointed out, as an everyday device, the Apple Watch isn’t filling much of a need like past Apple devices like the iPod or iPhone have. It’s just another thing. And a pricey one at that. At its least expensive, you’re essentially paying $350 to look at your wrist instead of your phone, while still carrying your phone around. For the high rollers, you’re paying upwards of ten grand. And just so we’re clear here, here’s an example of one of these high-end models:

    Yes, it’s a reasonably decent looking watch. So are these Rolex models.

    Also, just to keep things in perspective, you can get about 4 of Apple’s 27-inch 3.5GHz with Retina 5K display iMacs for $10,000.

    Here’s an AutoTrader article about 10 good used cars you can get for under $10,000. Money has a nice list of 24 things to do with $10,000. Somehow “buy a watch” didn’t make the list.

    Update: Apple didn’t reveal this in its announcements, but the Apple website shows the high-end watches going as high as $17,000. That includes this model:

    Here’s a list of brand new cars you can get for that much.

    Apple is very proud of the fashion elements of its collections, but I have a hard time buying that those looking to wear a watch for the fashion aren’t going to opt for a more traditional time piece.

    Vox put it well: “Viewed as a gadget, the device is just too expensive given its limited functionality. Yet it’s going to be an uphill battle to sell a square, bulky touchscreen device as a fashion statement. In trying to be both a gadget and a luxury item, it’s at high risk of falling in the no-man’s land between the two.”

    And I believe that was written before the $10K price tag was announced.

    Also keep in mind that Google tried to sell Google Glass as a fashion accessory. Yes, really.

    Certainly Apple’s device has more potential in that regard, but still. How often are tech and fashion really complementary?

    Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. When the iPad was unveiled, I felt like it was pretty much an over-sized iPhone that didn’t make calls. I actually kind of still feel that way about it (and competing tablets), but I’ll happily acknowledge that I underestimated how much people would want such a device. Maybe I’m underestimating that for the watch too.

    Here’s what Twitter is saying about Apple Watch:

    What do you think? Are you impressed by the Apple Watch? Would you buy one?

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