Apple Watch is Finally Near

by Harry Wang | Mar. 1, 2015

Apple will host a “Spring Forward” media event on March 9, 2015 and many industry watchers, including myself, expect the iconic brand to officially introduce its Apple Watch for its fans to pre-order. For almost 6 months, Apple has drummed up marketing about the Watch and the media has been teased with conflicting details from official sources and unofficial “leaks;” by March 9, everything will be in the clear.

The most intriguing question that I have is Apple’s marketing messages about the Watch—what features will Mr. Cook highlight as key differentiators and what aspects of the Watch will Apple try to galvanize consumer interest? we’ve been saying it for some time that although fashion is Apple’s edge over other smart watch brands on the market today, the company still needs to showcase compelling reasons for people to buy a digital watch (otherwise, there are more than 50 brands of luxury Swiss watches to buy). We’ve been speculating that health and wellness tracking, mobile payment, and smart home control will be the most likely application areas where Apple will showcase substantial collaborations with app developers, with unique experience to wow the media and consumers alike. At the event, we might be able to learn more details about the progress that Apple will have made for its HealthKit and HomeKit platforms because both can benefit from wearables’ functions.

Apple Watch’s pricing strategy will be under heavy scrutiny as well. Although there are speculations that the Edition version of the Watch—the 18K gold plated model—can fetch as high as $10,000, this model does not define the smart watch industry. The entry-level model—priced at $349 as Apple disclosed in last September, will be the volume driver and a target for benchmarking purpose from Apple’s rivals. The mysterious part of the Apple pricing strategy will be the mid-tier models that will test Apple’s marketing acumen in this new product category. Will they be priced towards the high end around the $1K mark or the low end at the $500 mark? This detail will be important for our analysts to model the volume and profitability of Apple Watch.

We expect Apple to sell between 15-20 million Apple Watch in 2015, a figure that represents less than 10% of Apple iPhone’s user base. This number is similar to the iPad launch-year figure. But the wild card is the Apple Watch demand in Asia, particularly China where Apple products have become very popular today compared with five years ago when iPad was first released. I will be tracking closely Apple Watch’s availability to fine tune my forecast models.

While I won’t be attending Apple Watch’s media event, I will be in London joining many wearable industry executives at the Wearable Tech Show. Apple Watch is expected to be a hotly discussed topic on my panel.

Next: A recap of the London Wearable Technology Show
Previous: New wearables data shows only 5% of US households use a smart watch with health functions


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