It starts at $349.
I could end this whole post with that. But I won’t because I want to explain my rationale for why I think that $349 is stopping people that may be sitting on the fence from buying one. If it was a separate category, be it a standalone product such as the iPod was, that worked independently, then a starting price of $349 seems justified. Admittedly the iPod was only independent after being synced with a Mac and then later a PC. However, I would still argue that the iPod wasn’t an accessory but a stunningly designed and easy to use MP3 player when it was released. “A thousand songs in your pocket” was a captivating advertising message to explain its existence to both tech and non tech consumers.
The question mark I have with the Apple Watch is that it is an accessory product for the iPhone. A mighty fine one at that which I hungered for when it was announced and got it on day one. I miss it being on my wrist when I charge it between 21.00-23.00 (I like it on while I am sleeping). How many accessories for the iPhone priced at $349 or more, either made by Apple or 3rd parties, gain wide adoption and become mainstream products in their own right? The nearest example I can think of is Beats headphones which generally sell at half the price of the cheapest Apple Watch.
It is generally regarded that Apple doesn’t do cheap products. They let other OEM’s cater for that market. Apple strives to make excellent products that are affordable to a large demographic. The original iPhone certainly sold ‘well’ but after only 2 months needed to be reduced in price from $600 to $400. When the iPhone 3G was unveiled in July 2008 the price was cut in half to $199 (on subsidy) getting the biggest applause from the WWDC audience. The sales of the iPhone 3G were a big success from the start. There were 5 main differences between the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G but I would hazard a guess that being more affordable was the biggest factor that led to the spike in its sales.
Am I in the demographic that Apple is targeting the Apple Watch too? To some degree yes, as I am completely entrenched in their ecosystem, buy most of their products on launch day and follow all Apple related blogs and news sites. I am into technology and like being an early adopter testing and trying new products.
What about all the other people that use Apple products. Are they obsessed with having the latest and greatest piece of tech coming out of Cupertino? Take my friends and family that have Apple products mostly commonly an iPhone. They know that I have an Apple Watch. Some have asked me to show it to them and most have been impressed with my demo of its features. Then I ask out of curiosity “Is it something you think you would want and buy?”
Here are the most common replies from a sample of 7 people with iPhones aged between 27 and 68.
- It’s cool but I can’t see me using it after a month.
- It’s too geeky
- It’s for younger people
- I got my phone for free (albeit subsidised)
- It’s not worth $349
This is obviously not a scientific survey. It can’t even be classified as a survey. I could link to various analysts who have done there own larger one’s or speculated on how many watches have been sold. Only Apple knows the facts and it is unlikely they will reveal their shipments at tomorrow’s Quarter 3 Financial Results.
From personal experience when I first started using the Apple Watch I wasn’t convinced it was better than my Pebble. It took me a few days to get used to the UI and few more weeks to appreciate many of the other features like Activity tracking. Even now I am still getting more advantages from using it, such as with the launch last week of Apple Pay in the UK. In the fall when watch OS 2 gets released I am sure the improvements will be appreciated by current Apple Watch owners.
The biggest question for me remains how to convince someone to spend $349 on an iPhone accessory?
I think the answer is to make it more affordable. Just suppose when the new iPhones get released in a couple of months you could buy an Apple Watch with its (new software and features) at the same time for $199. Would that persuade some of those people that are hesitating as to whether to buy one to part with their cash and give the watch a test drive? I think it just might and I might have some friends to actually send a sketch too.
You may completely disagree with everything I have just written or my sentiments but I would imagine that most people reading this are interested in Apple and their products. If you are one of those people, how many (non-tech) people do you know that own and wear an Apple Watch?