While Apple is expected to release its usual raft of software products at its World Wide Developers Conference, this year the biggest expectation is probably surrounding the Apple Watch 2. The second iteration of the Apple smartwatch will reportedly launch at the annual Apple conference – although there is still some debate over this – and the consumer electronics giant will be expected to improve on the first release in the series.
There are two schools of thought on the first Apple Watch release. The first is that Apple failed to adequately define the purpose of the Apple Watch, and thus the smartwatch was something of a failure. The alternative is that the original Apple Watch established a strong foundation for Apple in the smartwatch niche, and actually performed reasonably well commercially.
A recent tweet from industry analyst Ben Bajarin suggested that the annual industry sales of the Swiss watch industry amounts to $25 billion, with the first three quarters of revenue for the Apple Watch in the region of $7 billion. This indicates the degree to which Apple has established the Apple Watch as a viable product, and the Apple Watch 2 can build on this momentum when it is released later this year.
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Apple Watch 2 – watchOS
Apple recently released the latest update for the watchOS 2 operating system, with the Apple Watch 2 expected to build on this OS. watchOS 2.2.1 is particularly focused on security and performance issues, and many of the improvements that it includes have been described on the Apple security blog. Meanwhile, previous operating system improvements have focused on the Maps software, and further upgrades are expected at the World Wide Developers Conference, due to take place in June.
Health and fitness
Apple is expected to place a greater emphasis on health-tracking functionality with the Apple Watch 2, particularly as some of the functions it intended to include in the original Apple Watch had to be shelved due to technical reasons. Apple will undoubtedly have been working hard on circumnavigating these logistical problems ahead of the release of the Apple Watch 2, and this could be particularly valuable, at least according to recent data acquired by the analysis company Flurry.
It seems that users of the Apple Watch are more committed to health and fitness apps than any other category of software, according to research carried out by Flurry. This trend can probably be attributed to the increasing popularity of fitness trackers and other wearable devices. While the original Apple Watch provided some functionality in this area, it is expected to be extended significantly when the Apple Watch 2 is released.
Reports from market analysts suggest that although the Apple Watch 2 is expected to sell less units than the first Apple Watch in the series, the long-term potential of the range is actually quite rosy for Apple. It is already believe that the Apple Watch will account for around 40 percent of the sales in the luxury watch market by the end of the decade.
This statistic can be considered somewhat misleading, though, as luxury watches are defined as any price above $350. Certainly you would have an extremely hard time acquiring a Rolex for that sort of fee, let alone the sort of watch that the tennis player Rafael Nadal wears. But it does indicate that Apple is achieving significant market penetration in the mid-range watch marketplace, and this could help explain another major aspect of the Apple Watch 2 release.
New product range
It has been widely reported that the Apple Watch 2 will introduce a new product range, and that this will be placed between the most expensive Apple Watch edition and the $1,000 version of Tthe smartwatch. It seems that this model of the Apple Watch 2 will be specifically aimed at competing with the likes of Rolex and Omega, and that Apple anticipates this niche of the wristwatch market to be a potential growth area for the Apple Watch.
Cook muses on improvements
The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, has already made some very bold claims with regard to the Apple Watch 2. In an interview with CNBC, Cook suggested that the consumer electronics giant has been working extremely hard on improving the Apple Watch 2 over the last 12 months, and that consumers will love the upgrades to the smartwatch so much that they will wonder how they managef without one before.
Cook believes that the Apple Watch will continue to improve because Apple is still learning how to develop the ideal smartwatch. When one considers that the iPhone is nearly 10 years old, this certainly makes sense, and will help grow anticipation for the Apple Watch 2.
“You’ll see the Apple Watch getting better and better. We’re still in learning mode. We’re learning fairly quickly, though. We know a lot more than we did a year ago. I think that in a few years we will look back and people will say, ‘How could I have ever thought about not wearing this watch?”, Cook commented to CNBC.
One area where Apple will be particularly focused with the Apple Watch 2 is ensuring that the smartwatch is significantly more independent than its first release. Indeed, recent reports have suggested that the Apple Watch 2 could even be entirely independent from an iPhone unit, with watchOS apps submitted to the App Store after June 1 required to be native apps.
This is very much a rumor, and certainly not something that Apple has confirmed, but it would seem to be logical for the California-based corporation, even if it would necessitate a massive technological undertaking.
Apple is also expected to significantly redesign the Apple Watch when the Apple Watch 2 is unveiled, and one particular prediction suggests that the device will be 40 percent thinner than the first iteration of the series. Apple analyst Brian White, of Wall Street firm Drexel Hamilton, made this prediction in a research note, and it seems that the Apple Watch will follow the predilection that Apple has for producing ever slimmer devices with each new release.
There could also be a circular-faced Apple Watch 2, as Apple looks to diversify the options that consumers have with the Apple Watch range.