Hollywood movie studios, Taylor Swift, and Apple. It would be a brave person who would judge which of these three would win the award for the best marketing of an unreleased product.
Late in 2014, Apple might have taken the lead with the mother of all teasers. They announced their first major product release in five years, the Apple Watch, with the usual fanfare and ceremony from their Cupertino headquarters.
But the announcement was uncharacteristically light on detail, with some beautiful product shots and a glimpse of a prototype on CEO Tim Cook’s wrist, but few specifications.
As of this month, that all changed.
Unlike previous products like the iPhone and iPad, which came with a minimum level of customisation, the Apple Watch shows signs of being much more tailored to individual tastes. That could be a very shrewd move from Apple, who probably realised along the way that watches in the 21st century were more expressions of style and flair than just timepieces.
To meet this need, there is an Apple Watch for every price point, with the top of the tree Apple Watch Edition coming in at $14,000 to $24,000. For that hefty price tag you can get an 18 carat gold case, putting the premium version firmly in the Rolex price category.
The more mass-market product comes with a steel case and a range of bands, which will set you back between $799 and $1,629. And for those who want to pair their Apple Watch with their active lifestyle, there is a sport edition that comes with a lightweight and durable aluminium alloy.
Like the hugely popular Fitbit and Jawbone fitness trackers, the sport edition also comes with coloured bands with hard wearing plastic and silicone bands. These models will cost between $499 and $579 when they hit the market.
For those who want the Apple Watch the first day it’s available, it will be open for preorders as of April 10, with orders being fulfilled worldwide from April 24 onwards.
The current range of smart watches on the market vary widely in terms of how they work. Some only function when they are “tethered” to their host phone, while others are standalone devices.
The Apple Watch will stay true to Apple’s approach to entrenching customers in its ecosystem. As a result, it will work only when paired with an iPhone. It communicates with its host phone either via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Importantly, proximity will not be an issue if both devices are on the same Wi-Fi network.
The iPhone will be required to download the apps for the Watch via a special section of the App Store that has been provisionally called the Apple Watch Store.
Speaking of apps, the software kit to design apps for the Apple Watch has been available to developers for some months now. Just like websites had to be redesigned to adapt to mobile and tablet screens, apps will now have to be redesigned for the Apple Watch.
It remains to be seen which will be the best suited to such a small interface, but it’s fairly clear that those that make the most use of the “glance” feature of the Watch will excel. This is essentially a digital dashboard view of the app running in the background of the Watch that is shown on the screen when you tilt your wrist.
Like many others, we can’t wait to actually see an Apple Watch in person and have a play with it. The pedigree of the company in designing products that revolutionise industries has been proven in the phone and tablet categories. There is every chance that the Apple Watch could do the same for smart watches and wearable technology, and we can’t wait to find out.