After months of eager anticipation and increasingly feverish media speculation, Apple has finally unveiled its long-awaited Watch in a typically glitzy transatlantic event staged in both San Francisco and Berlin.
Apple’s fan base might be renowned for its enthusiasm, but even the most dedicated Apple-head might have a hard time scraping together the cash to buy the top-of-the-range Watch Edition. Priced at an eye-watering $17,000 (£11,289), the Watch Edition features 18-carat rose and yellow gold – but, as the Independent points out, it’s likely to be rendered technologically obsolete within a year. The basic aluminium Apple Watch Sport will cost $350, with steel versions available for between $549 and £1,099.
In addition, each version of the Apple Watch will be available in two sizes – 38mm and 42mm. The 42mm Apple Watch gold version will cost £2,000 more than its 38mm counterpart, while the difference in price between the two basic Apple Watch Sports will be a mere $20. Also, the larger steel Watch will cost $50 more than the smaller version.
Apple admirers will no doubt be relieved to learn that the wait for the Watch is very nearly over – at least for those living in the chosen launch countries. The tech giant’s chief executive Tim Cook confirmed during yesterday’s launch event that the Watch would be available for pre-order from April 10th, shipping a fortnight later on April 24th.
In total, nine countries – the US, UK, Australia, Japan, France, China, Hong Kong, Germany and Canada – will be the first to welcome the Watch before it eventually launches worldwide. It seems that you won’t, however, simply be able to walk into (or camp outside of) your nearest Apple Store and pluck an Apple Watch off the shelf. Instead, you’ll have to order online or “by appointment” after April 10th, and then “by reservation” at Apple Stores after April 24th.
What’s more, you will need an Apple phone in order for your Apple Watch to function – so if, as the Financial Times points out, you’re one of the 75 per cent of smartphone owners who has an Android device, Apple Watch won’t be of much use to you.
The FT also reports that the Apple Watch will be packed full of all the apps you’d expect – from Uber to Instagram to ESPN to The Guardian – but iPhone users will already have access to them, so there’s a question mark over whether the Apple Watch’s offering is truly distinctive enough to make it appeal to a mass audience.
There’s no doubt that the Apple Watch is quirky and novel, and given the strength of Apple’s following it’s sure to be a big seller. However, whether or not it can break out beyond Apple’s hard core – get it? – fan base to establish lasting mainstream popularity is certainly open to question at this stage. Where some see a bold new innovation, others may see a gimmick. All will, of course, soon be revealed.
What do you make of the Apple Watch? Do you see it as a flash in the pan or an exciting new addition to Apple’s burgeoning inventory of consumer electronics devices? Post a comment below to join the debate.