Apple Watch News and Developments
The latest news on the Apple Watch – Apple’s first product in the Wearable Technology sector. The Apple Watch was released on April 24, 2015 and already commands significant market share. Back in March we said the genie is out of the bottle for Wearables with the introduction of the Apple Watch. The journey is only beginning.
Apple Grabs 52% of the SmartWatch Market
While Apple is not releasing numbers, according to a new report from Juniper Research, the Apple Watch has 52% of the SmartWatch market. Not bad given that it was released at the end of April 2015. While there are complaints about battery life and many are still looking for the “killer app” that makes it a must-have, Apple has still proved it can quickly muscle its way into an existing market with established players. And with version 2 on the way, the Apple Watch will probably claim two-thirds of the market, following in the steps of the iPhone and other Apple products.
For those waiting for Apple to do an augmented or virtual reality device, it suggests that Apple has no problems being “last in” to a market – they can quickly move to the top. Stay tuned. (Update: January 14, 2016)
New Apple Watch on the Way
The Taiwan company that assembles the Apple Watch, Quanta Computer, has confirmed that a new version is in the works for Q2 of 2016. Of course, advance news is hardly guaranteed when it comes to Apple, but given that it comes from the company’s top exec and that spring 2016 would be the right time for a new version, it’s very credible.
It remains to be seen if Apple sticks to the high-end of the market or tries to squash Fitbit and undercut Microsoft’s effort to be a player in this area. IBTimes has a list of seven features they’d like to see in the new version – of course, battery life is right up there on the top. (Update: November 16, 2015)
Sagging Sales for the Apple Watch?
Apple has a reputation for not doing discounts so when news of an Apple Watch price break appears, it fuels speculation that sales are weak. However, it is very limited and only available if you also buy an iPhone. Here’s the news from Mashable:
In a move likely to fuel speculation about the popularity, or lack thereof, of the Apple Watch, Apple has decided to test out a discount bundle involving the smartwatch.
The bundle, currently limited to select stores, offers a $50 discount on an Apple Watch Sport or Apple Watch when a customer buys a new iPhone.
$50 is not much so we’ll have to see if more discount options follow. (Update: Nov. 1, 2015)
Your Life and the Apple Watch
Is the Apple Watch a must have device? Maybe the fact that the answer to this question is not immediately evident has pushed Apple released seven new ads for the Watch. Some show everyday activities made easier with the Watch while others focus on things you could not do without it. From skateboarders to a dancer and a couple of the verge of a kiss, Apple wants to say: you need one. With Apple’s financial reports due soon, we’ll see if the public agrees.(Update: October 23, 2015)
Apple Watch and Health
Duke University, Oregon Health & Science University and John’s Hopkin’s University are the latest institutions offering ways for people with certain conditions to participate in various clinical studies and daily, weekly and monthly surveys. The effort, which collects data via the iPhone and, in some cases, an Apple Watch, is a part of a greater effort to ultimately improve patients’ health and the ability to care for them. (from Mashable)
Apple Watch Saving Lives
A couple of stories on this over the past weeks with the most recent being a teen on Cape Cod who ended up in the hospital after football practice. From OneCape Health News:
Luckily, the 17-year-old Houle had already tested the heart rate monitor at home and knew his normal heart rate was between 60 and 70 beats per minute. During two football practices in one day on Tuesday, Sept. 8, his heart rate climbed to 145.
That would be expected after such rigorous exercise. According to the American Heart Association your maximum heart rate during strenuous exercise is about 220 minus your age. But three hours later, Houle’s resting heart rate was still at 145.
“It was the first day of pre-season,” he says. “The first practice was from 10 until 12 and the second practice was from 3 to 5. During my second practice, I started to have problems breathing and I had pain in my back, which turned out later to be my kidneys failing.”
Houle was rushed to the hospital where he was eventually diagnosed for rhabdomyolysis, where the breakdown of muscle tissue releases protein into the bloodstream. He’s now back home but obviously not on the football field.
There are other accounts of the Watch helping with a heart arrhythmia and Atrial fibrillation conditions – news like that is not only some of the best press Apple could have, but it could be transformative in healthcare down the road once everyone is wearing some form of heart monitor – Apple or otherwise. (Update: September 20, 2015)
Apple Watch Software Update
So if you bought the Apple Watch earlier this year, there’s now a new model, new bands, but most important, an update to WatchOS 2 on September 16th (the release has been delayed).
The big news is the new software which will allow Apps to run natively off the Watch instead of using your iPhone. Artechnica summed up the developer benefits:
Most of WatchOS 2’s new features let third-party developers do stuff that Apple could already do with the hardware. This includes full access to the watch’s sensors, the Digital Crown, the microphone, and the Taptic Engine. Developers will be able to build more complex animations, too—current WatchKit apps are much more limited by comparison, and they’re largely made up of static cards.
And by the way, Tim Cook announced that the App Store now has over 10,000 Watch-enabled apps. Keep an eye on this as the device itself is just a foundation for the developments to come. (Update, September 9, 2015)
Apple Watch and the Market
So there’s mixed news in the first summer of Apple’s Watch. Surprised? You shouldn’t be as nothing is simple with Apple.
Bloomberg notes that Apple’s foray into the Smartwatch market has helped push U.S. Watch sales to their largest drop in seven years. That translated into a 14% decline in unit sales and 24% decline in sales of watches priced from $100 – $149. More onimously,
Elmar Mock, one of the inventors of the Swatch, said in March that Apple may cause an “ice age” for the four-century-old [watch] industry.
So it’s definitely not a great time to be in the watch business.
However, Business Insider notes that Apple’s sales have been significantly lower than anticipated (though we have nothing more than rough estimates to go on). And competitors gunning for Apple, with Swatch’s Sistem51 angling for the lower price segment of the market. System51 is innovative, never needs charging (it repowers from the movement of your body), and follows Swatch’s approach of a fun device that you’ll use for a few years and toss out. Definitely not a Smartwatch but a whole lot cheaper.
Of course, Apple is only on the first version and if you look back at the first iPhone, you realize this is not the model by which one measures future development.
Nevertheless, the bad news may not so much be sales data but in perception of need:
A YouGov survey found that 60% of 16- to 34-year-olds didn’t think watches were necessary in the age of smartphones.
If a key demographic no longer thinks they need a watch, then the Apple Watch will only succeed when it is no longer a watch but an information and social device. Our Smartphones are anything but phones – maybe the Apple Watch needs to shake free of its heritage. (Update: August 8, 2015)
The Good and Bad for Athletes
Now that Apple Watch is out, runners and athletes are putting it to the test in the real world. The good?
- Excellent tracking of time, heart rate and cadence
- A sports device that also lets you see incoming texts
- Tracking additional health data
But not everything is perfect, so the bad?
- No GPS so you need to carry your iPhone
- Using a sports device that you also wear for productivity and work
- The cost compared to other fitness trackers on the market
It’s a bit of a mixed bag from a runner’s perspective. But given time, we suspect many of these issues will be resolved – especially having GPS on the watch. With Wearables right now, Apple is the one to watch. More at CIO.com. (Update: May 26, 2015)
What does it Cost to Make an Apple Watch?
IHS Technology published a teardown of the Apple Watch and found that the hardware components cost $81.20. Add in $2.50 in manufacturing cost and the Watch is $83.70, or about 24% of its retail price. IHS notes that:
Apple Watch has the lowest hardware costs compared to retail price of any Apple product. . .
Of course, this data does not include capital expenses, R&D, IP licensing, logistics, etc. Probably the most amazing aspect of the numbers is that a $350 (and more) product costs only $2.50 to manufacture – just one tenth the cost of the touchscreen alone. You can see a complete breakdown of the hardware costs at IHS Technology. (Update: May 1, 2015)
3,000 Apps as the Apple Watch Store Goes Live
From shopping on Amazon to checking your boarding gate before you fly, over 3,000 apps will be available for the Apple Watch on the April 24th release date. It’s a positive sign for Apple as it means developers are willing to work with the new wearable interface. The apps are organized into collections, including areas such as Health and Fitness, Communication, Family, Travel, etc.
As CNET notes, Samsung also has about 3,000 apps in its Gear wearables App Store, but only after a year and a half of its watch being on the market. It shows the power Apple has within the developer community and the allure of the rapidly developing field of Wearable Tech. Now just watch how the Android ecosystem explodes with new apps in response to the developments from Apple.
Reuters Headline: Only 6% Plan to Buy a Watch
An interesting headline in the Huffington Post that “only” 6% of Americans plan on buying the Watch. If you subtract young teens, that works out to about 15 million Watches. The greatest interest seems to be among men age 30-39. If those numbers hold, it’s an impressive start for Apple’s first Wearable Tech device. To put the sales in a different timeframe, last weekend Apple sold around a million Watches – far more than the 720,000 Android Wear Watches that sold over the past year. (April 15, 2015)
Gorgeous Display but a Long, Long Wait
The Apple Watch is out, and within three hours, mostly out of stock. If you want one, you’ll need patience. Most models are now set for a 4-6 week delivery, which puts the new arrivals into June.
So how did Apple do on opening day? Hard to say determine since they probably won’t release sales numbers for the Watch this quarter. The press is all over the place with some speculating that there’s not much demand to others pointing out that there was no way to fully stock the stores given the 54 different configurations of models and wrist bands.
We tried out the Sport and Watch models at the 14th Apple Store on Friday evening. Our experience? Already limits on what was available and the devices were only running in demo mode – full of possibilities but hard to get a sense of all the features. (April 11, 2015)
Apple Watch Software Update Before Release
Surely this is not a week for early departures at Cupertino, especially with the news that software issues are plaguing the Apple Watch, creating delays in loading of third-party apps and notification features. So before the first watch is sold, there will be a software update to fix the more serious issues. From Nilay Patel’s very thorough day-in-the-life-of-an-Apple-Watch review (well worth reading, by the way) at The Verge:
Sometimes pulling location information and data from your iPhone over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi takes a long time. Sometimes apps take forever to load, and sometimes third-party apps never really load at all. Sometimes it’s just unresponsive for a few seconds while it thinks and then it comes back.
Notifications need to be near instantaneous – otherwise, it’s back to the iPhone and the Watch becomes nothing more than a very expensive accessory. (April 9, 2015)
3,000 Lineup Virtually for the Apple Watch
There will be no lines outside Apple retail stores this Friday with the new appointment system to see the Watch. But interest is so high that over 3,000 people are in a virtual line at the Lumoid Try-Before-You-Buy site. $45 will get you a week with the Apple Watch Sport edition and for $55, you can try out the more expensive model. Maybe virtual lines are the future of retail – it sure seems Apple would like it that way. From SFGate (April 8, 2015)
New Apple Storefronts
Apple will begin rolling out an Watch-themed promotion for its storefronts this week in preparation for the April 24th debut. The new theme is based on the application icon arrays on the watch and powered by mini-LED lights to show off the visual sensibility of the new device. Store interiors are also getting a revamp, reflecting the hand of former Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts in her new role as Senior Vice President of retail and online sales. (04/05/2015)
Media Hype or Genuine Interest?
Interest spiked with the announcement of the Apple Watch but the 45% increase in traffic to Apple’s own website pales in comparison to the 310% increase that came last year with the announcement of the iPhone 6. According to The Next Web, interest is increasing but it still lags behind other tech stories and even other Apple products. (04/02/2015)
Third Party Apple Watch Apps
9to5Mac notes that Apple has been approving third-party apps for the Apple Watch even though many developers will have to wait until the release date. The apps getting on the early-release list are the ones that will shape the experience of prospective customers on April 10th when the Watch goes on display. The approved apps tend to fall in one of four areas – travel, organization, news and social media. (04/01/2015)