Today was Apple's official launch announcement of its Apple Watch device, which will become available on April 24 for $349 for a base model and up to $10,000+ for its luxury models.
First unveiled last September, the Apple Watch is the company's answer to a wide variety of Android and Windows watches that were released in 2014. One of my colleagues wondered today if Apple delayed its release to Spring 2015 to add hype and separation from its competitors, many of whom rushed to release before Christmas. Not a bad idea, especially since previously released smartwatches have so far failed to capture the imagination of mainstream consumers.
By launching the Apple Watch this spring, Apple added hype for it and created separation from its rivals.
"Apple Watch Sport, the low-end model housed in aluminum, starts at $349 for the 38mm model and $399 for the 42mm model," wrote The Verge's John Kastrenakes today. "The stainless steel Apple Watch will start at $549 for the 38mm model and $599 for the 42mm model, with prices ranging up to $1,049 and $1,099 depending on the band they're paired with. The 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition (pictured above) will start at $10,000. Those will only be available in select retail stores."
Apple is taking preorders for the new watches beginning April 10.
"As opposed to a phone or a tablet, where what’s inside matters most, the Apple Watch is invariably a fashion product just as much as it is a computing tool," wrote TechCrunch's Jordan Crook. "While the iconic and uniform look of the watch face itself will act as a status symbol in its own right, no one wants to wear the exact same thing as everyone else. A watch is inherently an accessory, and accessories are made to set us apart."
One of the biggest questions that remained unanswered by Apple today was: How long will its battery last? "A watch that lasts all day is an expectation, not an option," wrote The Globe and Mail's Shane Dingman (March 8). "In September, Apple suggested you'd recharge the Watch 'at night.'"
So what does this all mean for retailers?
Navneet Loiwal, CEO and co-founder of Shopular.com (a company specializing in mobile coupons), wrote a guest blog post on VentureBeat (March 7) about the retail potential of the Apple Watch and other wearables.
"Wearable technology is merely a micro sizing of (the) mobile experience — just smaller, more succinct, and accessible on your arm, head, or hand," he wrote. "By the nature of their condensed size, wearables are more closely tied to the user experience — reflecting real time movements and actions by the user himself."
The Apple Watch offers subtle marketing and 'subconscious' data capture possibilities to retailers.
Unlike a phone, which has to be taken out of the pocket and held to be used, wearables offer retailers greater possibilities for subtle marketing notifications (coupons, discounts, etc.) and 'subconscious' data capture. "Both the data collection and sensor-driven elements of the technology make it a Big Data dream with the ability to more closely track consumer spending and preferential shopping habits," Loiwal wrote.
Wearables also present an opportunity to improve the customer experience through the retail staff who wear them. "According to Price Waterhouse Cooper, 72 percent of consumers will look to wearable tech to improve customer service."