Apple Watch is likely to be the most highly anticipated tech gadget of 2015. Despite a website of beautiful images and wonderfully crafted copywriting, Apple isn’t telling us the whole story about Watch.
If Apple does Watch just right, then something wicked special this way comes. Assuming some measure of market success, are we as likely to upgrade Apple Watch as often as an iPhone or iPad or Mac?
Reviews of what we do know about Apple Watch are a mixed bag. Even watch industry gurus don’t agree on whether the design is amateurish or luxuriously classic.
One thing is for sure. Apple Watch today needs the iPhone to work. Five years from now the Watch might be a standalone device, capable of technical and communication wizardry without the tether.
When the iPhone launched in 2007 who would have predicted that it would be a sales leader just five years later? The technology has improved and today’s smartphones are thinner, lighter, faster and more useful than ever.
Logically, then, Apple Watch is likely to follow a similar course. But watches are not smartphones, and expensive watches are not bought on a similar timeline to an iPhone; every few years.
Brand name watches are forever. Well, not necessarily forever, but certainly for more than the life cycle of iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Apple plans to start Watch pricing at $350, but the 24-carat gold version is likely to be 10 to 20 times more expensive. Gold devices may be popular in Asia, but who wants to pay big money for a cool technology gadget that will be second hand obsolete in two or three years as the technology advances?
The timeless design of Apple Watch means a rapidly growing watchband and accessory industry, yes, but what if that design– the case– is also upgradeable? No, not just software updates a few times every year, but upgradeable– as in, lift out the insides and replace the whole shebang with the latest techno wizardry– while retaining the old case, sapphire screen, and band?
Think about that scenario for a moment.
When Apple releases the second or third version of Watch, with new circuitry and functionality inside, you could get it all with a quick hardware upgrade (for a price) at the Apple Store. No need for a new band. No need for a new case. Pop it open. Pop it in. Pop it shut.
Alright, there are all kinds of problems with that and the whole upgrade-hardware-idea is very un-Apple-like, but Apple faces an equally daunting problem of getting customers to upgrade to new versions of Watch without feeling as though they’re being taken for a ride on the Upgrade Pogo Stick.
Just as functionality that was once reserved for the Mac has found its way to iPhone and iPad, iPhone functions will find their way to Apple Watch. Maybe that’s the path that saves. We pay from $650 to nearly $1,000 or a new iPhone model every few years, so what’s to prevent loyal customers from following a similar upgrade path for a wrist device that carries much of the same functionality, and more?