Apple took a turn towards something I was hoping they would do: (relative) affordability. You can see it in this piece from Business Insider:
Apple introduced an iPhone with a smaller screen on Monday called the iPhone SE. The best way to think about it is as Apple’s current top-of-the-line iPhone specs in a smaller body. It costs $399 without a contract — a surprisingly low price for a new iPhone. …the older iPad Air 2 got a price cut to $399…. While the Apple Watch didn’t get a hardware update, Apple did unveil new nylon bands and cut its starting price from $350 to $299.
I was wondering if Apple was going to try and offer some affordable products or reposition itself as a luxury brand. I am glad to see they went with affordable. There are now lots of products from Apple at a wide range of price points, starting with the iPod (at $59). I have always been a fan of the lower priced iPods, and I am glad to see Apple still offers them. Likewise, the iPad Mini 2 is an excellent tablet and the iMac mini is an excellent computer. Relative to the market, they are priced competitively and yet superior technology. Now the new Watch and the new SE phone join them.
For people who want to spend lots of money, Apple has a product for them. By offering the lower end products, they both force their competitors to offer better products as well as allow more people to have access to their excellent technology.
P.S. I realize for some people, even these relatively low prices are not affordable. In the context of this post, affordable is in context to the rest of the marketplace an Apple product competes within.
After the Apple Watch came out, I wondered how this would affect Pebble, the company. Turns out, instead of folding, they have plans to evolve and grow. For evidence of this, check out their latest watch (in the photo, as well as here: Pebble Smartwatch | Smartwatch for iPhone & Android). They seem to be aiming to finding a market for those wanting some of the features of the Apple Watch without all the functionality (or cost).
With the watch above, you can see them adopting higher end materials and also getting thinner (and round). It is more expensive than the original Pebble, but likely better quality. And still much cheaper than Apple Watch.
I have a Pebble and I really like it. It does what I want, which is send me notifications without having to get out my phone, which is great in meetings, at events, or driving (carefully). And you can even easily write code for it. Finally, it is a great watch that needs to be rarely charged.
Needless to say, the Apple Watch is a great product. Depending on your needs, it could be a better choice than the Pebble. But the Pebble is a good product too, and I think there is a place in the market for a range of watch makers. Get one that suits your needs. With the Pebble, now you have more choice.
- It already looks like the Watch is a big success. If anything, what has surprised me is that Apple doesn’t seem to have sufficient quantity in stock to meet the demand. I am not surprised by the success: I am surprised by the breakdown** in the supply chain. (** Further reporting may show that to be not true).
- The timing of the Watch is perfect. What do you think will make a great present for young people as they graduate from schools and universities? Yep. Who do you think doesn’t own a watch currently? Yep, same group.
- The size of the Watch will likely be a non issue, now and in the future. I’d like it thinner myself, but there have been previous Apple devices that I thought were not ergonomically ideal, and they did just fine. Plus, we have become spoiled: the original iPod and iPhone slimmed down over time, but were still successful in various formats. The same will be said for the watch.
- The price is a non-issue too. People pay $179 (in Canada) for a Nano and $249 or more for an iPod Touch. The watch is another price point, but not all that far away from them. What is interesting is that Apple has products from under $100 (the Shuffle), to the Nano, the Touch, to iPad, the Watch, to the iPhone, to the laptops. If you consider the Apple an aspirational product, that is smart. You can acquire an Apple product at different price points, and once you get them, you are likely to be more inclined to get the new product from them. That happened to me: I went from having no Apple devices to having a shuffle, then a touch, than a phone, then an iPad. I expect to eventually get a laptop from them too. You get used to the quality and the interoperability.
- The benefit of the Watch, which I have seen with my Pebble, is that I can keep aware of alerts without looking at my phone. I expect alot of people will love that.
- People who think the Apple Watch is just a watch likely think the iPhone is just a telephone. As we all know, the iPhone is a small computer that allows us to make phone calls but really does so much more. The Apple Watch is an even smaller computer that tells us the time but really does much more.
- Application developers will drive the Watch to greater success. The new device will drive new applications that couldn’t be written on other devices. The apps will make the watch go from Nice to Have to Must Have.
- Copycat hardware makers will also drive success. You can bet that Korean and Chinese hardware manufacturers will be coming out with their own watches soon (and some already have). Soon smart watches will be as common as smart phones.
- Expect an explosion of watch bands and other accessories for the watch. Also, you will see that people will own more than one Watch (something they are unlikely to do with other tech, like phones or laptops).
- As for the future? If you still believe in Moore’s Law like I do, eventually the Watch will not need the iPhone to work. Also, the future will only see more wearable technology, and I expect the Watch to play a big part in that.
…and I recommend you bookmark one or two to go back and read towards the end of the year to see how poorly they did and why they were wrong. This one, for example, You Guys Realize The Apple Watch Is Going To Flop, Right? | Co.Design | business + design, touches on a lot of things that are likely to be problematic about the new Apple Watch. Yet, the author makes the same two mistakes authors have been making about Apple since Steve Jobs returned: 1) looks at the failures of the competition and 2) looks at the limitations of the current technology. These are mistakes, because 1) Apple has a base of purchasers that has not let the company down in some time and that the competition will never have and 2) Apple has a way of having people focus on the potential, not the limitations.
The Apple Watch will be a success. I have no doubt. Wait and see.
(P.S. image sourced via a link to the article).
Apple won’t be the only one driving people to use smart watches: Google and other manufacturers are getting in on the action too. For more details, see the Official Google Blog and this post: Android Wear, moving forward like clockwork.
Here’s eight quick things I concluded while watching Apple talk about their latest product: the Apple Watch
- In the future, you won’t own one Apple Watch, you will own several. For the record I have two shuffles and a number of iPods. I can see the same with Apple Watches.
- I expect Apple to experiment with different face types over time. The only thing that changes more than IT is fashion. So expect a steady stream of changing Apple Watches, which will embed fashion and IT.
- I also expect Apple to launch partnerships with an array of other companies like high end fashion houses. Just like others make sunglasses for Tom Ford, Prada, etc., I expect Apple to make watches for them. They will be able to use higher end materials, like gold and expensive leather. They might even come with high end apps. Jony Ive was right to say that high end watch makers should be nervous. Apple can work with others to make high end watches that have sophisticated IT: not many (any?) can claim the same thing?
- This is also tough for copycat IT companies like Samsung. Apple can now move at the pace of fashion, which is faster than the pace of IT. Plus fashion is about taste, which is an essential part of Apple. It is in their DNA, so to speak. Not so with other mobile device makers.
- The Apple Watch is not simply a watch, any more than the iPhone was simply a phone. There is alot of emphasis on the watch part right now, just like there was alot of discussion about the phone part of the iPhone at first. I expect that to change over time.
- Right now the Apple Watch depends on the iPhone or other device: it is secondary. I expect the Apple Watch will become the primary device over time, especially with advances in IT. It will be possible to become primary and that makes sense, because you don’t have to carry it: you simply wear it.
- Apple has two wearable devices right now: the Apple Watch and Beats. Expect more and more. I expect even Apple eye wear. Unlike the fiasco that is Google Glass, it will be done correctly the first time. And like the watch, you will have more than one pair.
- I don’t expect Apple to make a wide range of wearable computing devices. Apple tends to focus. They have a limited range of personal computing devices: I expect them to have a limited range of wearable devices.
P.S. The Apple Watch is not the iWatch. A small shift. Also, this has been a good day for Tim Cook. He is an understated CEO, but he has transitioned Apple from Steve Jobs very well. His first priority was to steady the company. Now he is charting a new course. Apple shareholders are lucky.
Lastly, these are my opinions only, and not my employers.