A new report from The Wall Street Journal highlights the Apple Watch, the highly anticipated wearable device that the iPhone maker is expected to launch in just a few weeks.
“What Exactly Is an Apple Watch For?” answers a lot of questions about the new device, which was first introduced in September. Not surprisingly, these answers haven’t officially come from Apple, but rather from sources close to the Cupertino, California-based company.
One of the more interesting topics addressed by The Wall Street Journal is what the Apple Watch was supposed to be, but isn’t, at least as a version 1.0 device.
Originally, Apple executives wanted to create a wearable device that could measure blood pressure, heart activity, and stress levels. These proved unworkable, leaving Apple “struggling to define a purpose of the smartwatch.”
Their answer, for now, is a little bit of everything: displaying a fashion accessory; glancing at information nuggets more easily than reaching for a phone; buying with Apple Pay; communicating in new ways through remote taps, swapped heartbeats or drawings; and tracking daily activity.
Now that the Apple Watch is almost here, many challenges remain.
For one, unlike other Apple products, the Watch is going to straddle the line between jewelry and consumer electronics, which creates “different types of expectations from consumers about quality, obsolescence and the buying experience.”
As we already know, this means a range of watches at different prices, starting at $349. Those Apple Watch Edition models with an 18-karat gold casing? They are “expected to be among the most expensive products Apple has ever made, likely surpassing the $4,000 high-end Mac Pro.”
In January, I suggested that the Apple Watch Edition models would be priced at between $2,000 and $5,000. At the time, many AppAdvice readers disagreed with my suggestion.
These contrasting products mean that the Apple Watch is going to be marketed much differently than other products.
Marketing the Apple Watch won’t be as simple as marketing past Apple products. The iPod was a way to carry a music collection in your pocket. The iPhone was a mobile phone plus Internet device, with a revolutionary touch screen. Apple sold the iPad as a simpler way to browse the Web, view photos and watch videos.
Nonetheless, the experts expect that “brand appeal” and the company’s loyal customers will make the Apple Watch the most successful wearable device on the market.
How successful will the Apple Watch be?
According to The Wall Street Journal, in the first quarter, Apple suppliers in Asia are expected to make between 5 million and 6 million Apple Watches. Half of these will be for the entry-level Apple Watch Sports model, with one-third for the mid-tier Apple Watch model. These are the watches that feature stainless-steel casing and a sapphire crystal display. One million of the expensive Apple Watch Edition models will make up the rest.
Assuming that Apple sells every Watch that is produced, first quarter sales are expected to reach levels obtained by the iPad in 2010. Apple sold 7.5 million iPad units during the first quarter of release.
Earlier this month, JP Morgan suggested that 5 percent of iPhone users would buy an Apple Watch during the first year of release. This would translate into sales of 26.3 million units in the first year.
At the time, I called these numbers highly conservative. I would expect that more than 5 percent of iPhone owners to buy an Apple Watch before the end of the year. We’ll soon find out, no?