Sometime later today, we will finally learn some hard details on Apple’s most anticipated product since the iPhone: Apple Watch. Last week, I was asked for some comments by the media and the text below were my thoughts in advance of today’s event. Beyond my comments, you can find some interesting roundups here and here, as well as, a solid profile of Jony Ive.
I believe there are a number of challenging angles on selling this new device from Apple’s perspective and I truly believe that getting the store experience right is one of them. Granted, Apple has not reveled their Apple Store plans (I’m really hoping they talk to this point on Monday) but getting the channels/retail strategy wrong could easily doom a successful launch. This should be the first time we see Angela Ahrendts on stage and for Apple watchers – this is a HUGE deal. Jony Ive may be the designer for Apple Watch but Angela and her new team of fashion executives are the ones that will make it a sales success.
First, the price: this will be Apple’s most complicated product and pricing in the history of the company with one product going as low as $349 to as high as $15,000. I’m very curious on the pricing of the Edition category – agreed that there may only be an ounce or two of gold in the Watch and even with their margins, Apple probably could have an Edition starting price in the ballpark of $4,995, but that is not the watch market they are going after. The Edition is aiming for the Super-Premium crowd where gold watches cannot be found for under $20,000 (try and find a gold Rolex for under $25,000). I’m thinking $9,995 with some of the bands/options bringing it closer to $15K.
From the perspective of a consumer tech product, Apple Watch will be ‘shockingly’ high – from the perspective of high end watch marketplace – it was be ‘shockingly’ disruptive.
Second, I expect the watch to be modular – meaning the S1 System on a Chip can be replaced and upgraded – unlike current Apple tech. It fact – its has to be – not even the filthy rich are going to drop $10K on something that in 2 to 3 years, would have 10% of the performance of what’s currently available.
In sum, I honestly believe that this platform will change/develop the wearables market the way iPhone changed the cell phone market. I fully expect there to be loads of media attention on Apple Watch on Monday but at the same time, most saying this will NOT be a runaway hit like iPhone. Now new Apple category introductions consistently have a slow first year. Apple always keeps supplies low of new products to keep demand high. Year 2 – after 12 months of everyone being comfortable with the idea of an Apple Watch – it will explode and then all those naysayers will say “I told you so…”
Something to “watch” out for this afternoon…