Comment Editor's pick technology

Four reasons to care about the #AppleWatch

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The web was abuzz with coverage of CEO Tim Cook’s keynote revealing further information about the Apple Watch from San Francisco today.

We now know it will be available for pre-order and try-on in store from April 10, and for purchase from April 24. We also know its battery is supposed to last 18 hours with normal usage, and that its 18-karat gold version is going to cost $10,000.

Whether you’re counting down the days to get hold of your one or not, here are four reasons you should care about it…


1. Your parents now know the term “wearable technology”

Let’s face it, when your Mum calls you (by yours, I mean mine) to tell you this thing called “wearables” is all over the news and asks if you’re going to buy THE watch, mass awareness has hit. Apple has an incredible ability to do this; drive a trend beyond the early adopter set to infiltrate a much broader market (think iPod, iPhone, iPad). Analysts expect in the region of 20-22 million Apple Watches to sell within a year, which comes as no surprise with an entry price point of $349.

But the arrival of the Apple Watch will buoy the whole wearables category full stop; carrying other brands along with it, but more importantly enabling new ideas to come to light too. Expect a whole wave of new devices and concepts to follow suit. Most will crash and burn, but the odd one will help build out this industry even more.


2. This is Apple entering the luxury market

Whatever Jony Ive touches does indeed seem to turn into gold. In this case, quite literally. The third variation of the Apple Watch, called the Edition, comes in 18-karat solid gold. Better than that, it’s also available in limited quantity and for a huge $10,000. That, in case you didn’t realise, is Apple very openly entering the luxury, not to mention fashion, market. (To really emphasise that fact it also placed a 12-page ad spread in US Vogue this month). As Cook said in today’s keynote: “This is the most personal device we’ve ever made. It’s not just with you, it’s on you, and what you wear is an expression of who you are.”

How Apple markets it accordingly, when the other versions of the same device from a functionality perspective start at $349 for the aluminium Apple Watch Sport, and $549 for the stainless steel Apple Watch Collection, will be very interesting to see. One thing you can be sure of, the likes of Tag Heuer (which said it is considering a move into smart products via a partnership or collaboration with a university or specialist firm) and other traditional watchmakers will most definitely be taking note.


3. Expect a reworking of technology retail formats

With this move into not only the “wearables” space but the luxury one, does of course come the opportunity for Angela Ahrendts’ retail team to shine. Little detail was shared during today’s keynote of what exactly to expect in store, but previous news has indicated the Apple Watch will take its cue from the jewellery space in terms of how it is showcased. Expect things like specially-designed, glass-cased table displays, specific lighting, full-length mirrors and even private areas for a more intimate experience. According to 9to5mac, shoppers will also be able to try on different models and wear them around the stores to get a good idea of how they feel and look.

There’s a lot of debate around wearables as a whole and where they belong in retail, especially once it gets to a third party store – do they sit in the technology or the accessories department for instance, and who is responsible for training the sales staff on these new ways of talking to consumers? With Apple trialling pop-ups in Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Selfridges in London, expect it to start shaping some of the answers.


4. The focus on haptic feedback will win with millennials

From a functionality perspective, there are all sorts of things to be excited about, including the integration of “thousands of new apps”, according to Cook, and the comprehensive health and fitness system at its core. But it’s the “digital touch” element that really strikes a chord. Cook refers to the “taptic” engine of the Apple Watch, which is haptic feedback technology, as “a whole new way to communicate”, which knowing Apple, probably isn’t far wrong. Most of us are well used to vibrating phones patterns alerting us to different notifications, but not actually on our wrists. Whether it’s a quick tap to let you know your Apple Pay has worked, or a short series recreating a loved one’s heartbeat, the Apple Watch will enable true brief interactions with technology.

There’s a really fun element at the heart of this device too, whether it’s the sketches shared and animated in real-time from one watch to the next, or the emojis being pinged over between different apps. Expect these features to really sing to younger generations, and the likes of Snapchat, Wechat and Whatsapp to find integrated success as a result.

By Rachel Arthur

Rachel Arthur is Editor-in-Chief of Current Daily, the leading news source for fashion, retail and innovation, and the co-host of its weekly Innovators podcast. She otherwise serves as Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Current Global, a transformation consultancy driving growth within fashion luxury and retail. By background she is an award-winning business journalist and consultant, contributing to titles including Wired, Forbes and Business of Fashion.

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