What can we expect from the Apple Watch and will it ignite the smartwatch niche?
There is no doubt that the Apple Watch is the most hyped mobile consumer electronics release of the early months of 2015. There are high expectations for Apple’s first smartwatch, and of course when the largest corporation in terms of market capitalization releases a new product niche, it is normal for people to sit up and take notice.
Defining the smartwatch genre
Smartwatches haven’t really caught fire yet. There are a variety of possible reasons for the lack of a public enthusiasm about this form of technology, but perhaps the most obvious reason is that the genre is yet to be satisfactorily defined. No-one is quite sure yet what a smartwatch does which makes it an unmissable purchase, and the existing smartwatch manufacturers have failed to adequately define this.
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Apple has excelled in this sphere of consumer electronics in the past, and Apple devices unquestionably attract more attention than virtually any consumer product on the planet. So it will be intriguing for people that follow this industry to observe how Apple chooses to define its smartwatch brand when it is released in the next few months.
We already know that the Apple Watch will finally hit the stores at some point in April. It seems absolutely certain that this is the case, as Apple itself has confirmed this via CEO Tim Cook. It is very late in the day for this date to be pushed back, and Apple very rarely releases any explicit information about its products. So this can be pencilled in as a racing certainty.
But Apple likes to keep a very close to guard of its products during development and a prior to release, so the corporation has yet to confirm too much explicit information about the smartwatch as of yet. But as the promotional efforts of the company are stepped up, so information is beginning to seep out regarding what we can expect from the Apple Watch.
The most intriguing aspect of this smartwatch release, particularly for investors and stock-watchers, is how many units Apple will shift. Apple’s share price has performed extremely well recently, after a disappointing period at the beginning of 2014. And if the Apple Watch can exceed market expectations then it is possible that the stock of this $700 billion company will reach new horizons.
But considering the uncertain nature of this product release, there are a huge amount of diverging opinions around regarding how the Apple Watch will sell. A new research report has suggested this week that it might shift as many as 20 million units in the first year of release.
Apple Watch to sell 20 million
CCS Insight states that the Apple Watch will be stratospherically successful, and should this 20 million figure even come close to being realized then one can be certain that Apple will have an extremely successful financial year indeed. One must say, though, that this is a very bold prediction indeed, considering that the iPad sold around 15 million devices during its first year of release in 2010.
And not everyone concurs with this notion. Wired has suggested that the Apple Watch will in fact struggle to generate early momentum for a variety of reasons. This is an unusual prognosis given that Apple devices carry a street cachet and attractiveness to consumers that is simply completely unequalled in the consumer electronics sphere. But there are underlying reasons to suppose that the Apple Watch might not be as successful as some previous Apple releases.
Firstly, Apple devices have notoriously poor battery life, and this could be a serious issue for a smartwatch. The notion of charging something which is meant to be a convenient device on an extremely regular basis would not seem to be an attractive proposition. Yet this could be the case with the Apple Watch, particularly in early editions of the device, and this may be viewed as a barrier to purchase by many consumers. In its defense, Apple states that the Apple Watch battery lasts for three days, but consumer electronics companies are notorious for making ill-founded claims about their devices.
Apple will also be faced with the difficulty of delivering a killer app. This has been a massive issue for the smartwatch market in general, and it can be quite reasonably asserted that Apple has yet to demonstrate that the Apple Watch solves this problem. Indeed, the Apple hierarchy has recently conceded that the watch will not feature the level of functionality that was once hoped for within the corporation.
Diluted Apple Watch
It has been reported this week that Apple at one time intended to include a vast array of complex health features within the Apple Watch, but this scheme has had to be seriously diluted due to technical issues. One prominent report has suggested that hairy arms were causing problems with health tracking functionality!
Based on comments made by Tim Cook in promoting the Apple Watch, though, it seems that the smartwatch will nonetheless have a health-related remit. Cook claims that employees within Apple already utilize the device and find it extremely useful, and the CEO of Apple insists that the Apple Watch will deliver features which no other smartwatch has brought to market as of yet.
Of course, there is no compelling reason for Apple to be overly concerned about the initial success of the Apple Watch. It has just recorded the highest ever single-quarter profit in recorded business history, it is the highest value company in terms of market capitalization in business history, it had a phenomenally successful 2014 in sales terms, and every single device it has released in recent months has been massively successful.
And Apple can draw on vast consumer cachet. Certainly Apple itself expects the Apple Watch to be a massive seller, producing an initial run of over 5 million watches which it expects to sell very rapidly. The proof will be in the pudding.