Apple Inc unveiled a watch on Tuesday as Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook seeks to revive the technology company’s reputation as a wellspring of innovation.
The Apple Watch can receive phone calls and messages, play music, serve as a digital wallet to pay for goods and monitor heart rates via special sensors. The watches will come in three collections, including a sport edition and an upscale line coated in 18-karat gold.
“People are kind of scratching their heads on this watch, especially the fact that to successfully use the watch and to take advantage of its capabilities, you also have to have an iPhone,” said Daniel Morgan, vice president at Synovus Trust Company in Atlanta. “I don’t know if they’re in the right direction with this iWatch.”
Still, rival watch and wearable device makers will keep a wary eye on Apple, which upended the music industry and drove once-dominant phone makers like Blackberry to the brink of extinction.
Sony Corp, Samsung, LG Electronics Inc and Qualcomm Inc have already launched smartwatches, albeit without much success.
“Not the knockout some were anticipating. A bit gimmicky also on the health end of the wearable bands market,” said Jon Cox, an analyst of Swiss watch companies at brokerage Kepler Cheuvreux in Zurich.
“Not as cool as I feared. Nick Hayek is probably sleeping a little easier tonight,” Cox said, referring to the chief executive of Swatch Group.
Shares of the company closed just a tad higher after having risen almost 5 percent before executives trotted out the watch. The stock tends to rise in the run-up to a major product launch, and come under selling pressure afterward as investors cash out.
For a gadget that supposedly keeps the time, the iWatch release date rumors have been all over the place. It highlights the fact that no one outside of Apple has the full scoop.
Most reports tilt toward an October launch with mass production kicking off later this month.
iWatch would be right on time. Google’s first Aneroid Watch smartwatches just released care of the Samsung Gear Live LG G watch and soon, and none work with iPhones.
But at least one analyst believes that the Apple iWatch has been delayed to November with mass production beginning as late as September.
That’s hardly enough time to manufacturer the targeted 10 million smart watches that have been suggested for the iWatch launch window.
Rather than a delay into 2015, though, we suspect it’ll mean a limited supply in October or November – just like that hard-to-find, buzz-generating goldiPhone5s last year.
An even trickier question than “when will it come out?” is “how much will the iWatch cost?” There’s really no precedent for a premium smartwatch price just yet.
That notorious Apple tax could push the pricetag to $250 (about £146, AU$266) or even $300 (about £175, AU$320) given the rumored production difficulties and components involved.
Apple has also recruited high-profile people throughout the watch and biometrics industries who have likely wound up on its iWatch team. That talent comes at a price.
For the sake of comparison, Android Wear’s cheaper options are the Samsung Gear Live at $200 (£170, AU$250) and LG G Watch at $230 (£160, AU$250).
But Apple’s biggest and most stylish competition is from Motorola, and the Moto 360 price is likely to be $250 (about £146, AU$266, but more likely £200, AU$275 given its rivals’ prices).
Apple is thought to be aiming for luxury, but the final iWatch price may greatly depend on the display and specs that make it tick.