2016 will be an important year for the Apple Watch, with Apple expected to release the second iteration of the smartwatch series. The first Apple Watch was a qualified success for the consumer electronics giant, but will be looking to build on this solid foundation when it brings out the second version of the device.
Apple Watch 2 – New purpose
If Apple had a problem with the original Apple Watch it was that the corporation failed to satisfactorily define what the smartwatch range should be about. This may seem like a fairly big oversight, as surely the defining quality of any item of consumer electronics should be that people want to use it for a specific purpose!
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But the difficulty with the original Apple Watch is that it was rather too reliant on an attendant iPhone in order to be a usable device. Of course, many Apple Watch owners already own an iPhone, and although this wasn’t as such an inconvenience, it did leave many consumers wondering why they had shelled out for the smartwatch.
So this will be a particular priority for Apple in 2016, as the California-based company attempts to demonstrate to consumers that the Apple Watch and iPhone can be truly separated. And this has led numerous analysts to suggest that the Apple Watch 2 will indeed debut at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June.
This seems logical in many respects, as it would provide something of a stopgap hardware release ahead of the iPhone 7 in September, with Apple having previously unveiled the iPhone SE back in March. But although there is a gathering momentum that suggests a WWDC unveiling is inevitable, this may not turn out to be the case in reality.
In recent years, Apple has prioritized software releases for the WWDC and hardware devices have been conspicuous by their absence in San Francisco. This pattern is likely to continue with the World Wide Developers Conference this year, and Apple may instead delay the Apple Watch 2 for later in the year, and it may even release alongside the iPhone 7.
This may seem like an odd strategy considering the corporation is attempting to separate the two, and Apple might instead emphasize in its central message related to the Apple Watch 2 that the smartwatch features exciting new functionality this time round.
And Apple has been very consistent with its approach to unveiling events recently, with special events always set aside for hardware devices, and the World Wide Developers Conference being considered an important event in its own right. It is at the WWDC that Apple announces the latest version of the iOS operating system, with the corporation communicating directly with many key developers at this event.
It is unlikely that Apple would wish to water down this core message by talking about the Apple Watch 2, effectively deflecting attention away from the iOS 10 release. This would be counter-productive for the corporation, particularly as the Apple Watch 2 will utilize its own unique watchOS version of the operating system.
Rumors from close to the Apple supply chain have also suggested that the Apple Watch 2 will actually arrive at some point during the second half of 2016. It goes without saying that the WWDC event will actually be in the first half of the calendar year, and thus this would contradict previous reports on the matter.
Apple may also be targeting the key Christmas marketplace with the Apple Watch 2, hoping that consumers can be convinced to purchase a smartwatch over the holiday period. These combined factors suggest that the consumer electronics behemoth is likely to hold off on the release of the Apple Watch 2 at WWDC, despite a multitude of reports suggesting the contrary.
There could also be logistical difficulties regarding such a short timeframe for the release of the Apple Watch 2. Firstly, Apple is expected to introduce several aspects of health-related functionality that were intended for the original Apple Watch that have ultimately yet to come to fruition. This could be a rather technical undertaking for the Cupertino-based corporation, and this suggests that the deadline of the WWDC for the Apple Watch 2 may be rather challenging for Apple to reach.
Additionally, it has been widely reported that Apple is exploring the possibility of introducing new variations of the Apple Watch that extend beyond the Sports, Steel and Edition tiers made available in the first iteration of the series. In particular, it is believed that Apple will attempt to position a new smartwatch between the most expensive steel Apple Watch, costing just over $1,000, and the cheapest Apple Watch Edition, which costs $10,000 at present.
By doing this, Apple will challenge existing luxury watch manufacturers such as Rolex and Omega, which tend to place entry-level models around the $4,000 mark. But the combination of new health features and new models will probably mean that Apple delays releasing the device for as long as possible.
It has even been suggested in some quarters that the consumer electronics giant will release a circular version of the Apple Watch in the Apple Watch 2 generation. Again, this is just another example of an element of the smartwatch that could cause delays, and this all adds up to the likelihood that the device will be targeted at a point beyond the date of the World Wide Developers Conference.
Despite reports to the contrary and whispers of new models, the most esteemed Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, has suggested the opposite, indicating that Apple will concentrate on the internals of the Apple Watch 2 this time round. So there is a lot up in the air with the second generation smartwatch, and don’t be at all surprised if the Apple Watch 2 ultimately does not emerge at the June conference.