Tim Cook is set to announce the final details of the eagerly anticipated Apple Watch, the company’s first foray into wearable technology.
Despite the buzz, there are concerns as to whether the device will be a game changer in an already crowded marketplace.
It will also put Cook under the spotlight, as the watch is the first brand-new Apple product to be launched without the company’s co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011.
Three reasons it may be a game changer:
Apple Watch has more features than its rivals. Not only will the watch download emails and handle texts and calls, it will update the user with the latest headlines, have a heart rate monitor and alert the wearer to notifications with a subtle tap on the wrist. Siri and Apple Pay come as standard and there are plans to use the watch as a key for hotel doors and even cars.
It has the backing of a powerful brand. Apple has a reputation for quality and has acquired a cult-like following among its many fans. More than 400 stores around the world provide a direct conduit to customers, many of whom are lured in by slick and expensive advertising campaigns.
Apple has a track record of revolutionising markets. There were digital music players before the iPod, smartphones before the iPhone and even tablets before the iPad, but most of those products failed to catch on until Apple made devices so appealing they set new standards and created new demand, J.P. Gownder an analyst at Forrester Research said.
Three reasons it may flop:
There is no need for the expensive watch. Apple watch only works with a nearby smartphone, so users can’t swap one device for another. "What we've seen is that it's not obvious why people would want a smartwatch," Gownder said. A recent survey found some respondents didn't see a reason to buy a smartwatch because they already owned a less-expensive fitness band or a smartphone.
Consumers are not excited about the concept. Tech companies such as Samsung, Sony and LG already sell smartwatches that track heart rates, display emails or deliver notifications, but none have caught on. Only about 5 million smartwatches were sold worldwide last year. By comparison, Apple sold 74.6 million iPhones in just three months.
The cost is too high. Most smartwatches today retail for under £200, but it is expected that Apple Watch will cost about £300 for a standard model and much more for a luxury edition. And while affluent consumers might pay thousands for a watch they can wear for years, or even hand down to their children, it's a lot of money for something that could become outdated if Apple releases a new model every year.
Yet Ben Bajarin, a Creative Strategies analyst, suggests that people need to be patient and noted that even the iPhone was not an immediate success. “People need to understand more about what this product is, and what it does, and I think that will evolve over time,” he said.
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