That’s what we learned today at Apple’s “Spring Forward” event. The event’s focus was on Macbooks and the oft-rumored Apple Watch. Apple came forward with new details on the Apple Watch, revealing to the world exactly what it can (and can’t) do and how much it will cost.
The fact of the matter is that the Apple Watch is just another smartwatch that lacks in certain areas and comes in at an extraordinarily high price. The Apple Watch has plenty of apps available for it, but it has yet to find a feature to set it apart from other smartwatches. Apple demoed several uses of the watch that were intended to be intriguing and unique, yet the uses left many scratching their heads, wondering why they’d pay such a high price for a product that essentially has no benefits over their phone.
Apple demoed the ability to unlock your hotel room or open your garage door with the Apple Watch. Yet, there’s never been a problem with using a hotel room key card, and it’s hard to see why opening your garage door with your watch is any easier than opening it with your phone or your garage door remote that came with the system.
The uses are obviously designed to try and save you time and effort, but the examples didn’t show that taking place. The watch is small, difficult to navigate and isn’t particularly speedy. So why would you pay extra for an item that doesn’t offer additional benefits?
The Apple Watch’s only selling point over Android Wear is that it supports Apple Pay, allowing you to pay with NFC using your watch. While the feature is nice, it again begs the question: Why not simply use the phone in your pocket? The Apple Watch requires you to have an iPhone connected in order to use most of its features, meaning that any of the useful features that can be done with the Apple Watch can be done with the phone that you already own.
Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it's really how it works.Steve JobsApple
An argument could be made that the Apple Watch places an emphasis on fitness and that is its primary use. The problem with this idea is that the Apple Watch lacks two important facets of a fitness-centric smartwatch. The Apple Watch has no GPS for tracking your runs, bike rides or other activities, and it comes without any waterproofing, meaning that you better not to try and swim with it or shower off while still wearing it. In fact, you should probably be careful just washing your hands with the Apple Watch, as the price is high enough that you’re going to want to exercise extreme caution while wearing it.
Let’s talk about that price. The bare minimum that you’ll be paying for the Apple Watch is $349 for the Apple Watch Sport, which comes with a 38mm rubber strap and aluminum body. Upping to a 42mm size will add on an additional $50. If you’d like the stainless steel Apple Watch, expect to start at $549 for the version with a 38mm rubber strap. Prices go up from there depending on which watch band you choose, with extravagant pricing such as $449 for a stainless steel watch band.
Oh, and of course, you could also pick up the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, which starts at $10,000. Looking for a red leather strap to go with that? That combo will run you $17,000.
The pricing of the Apple Watch is its most problematic area. For a watch that offers very little against the competition and even falls behind in certain areas, the prices, even the base ones, are too high. Apple is a company that can usually afford to charge a premium on its devices, but it may have gone too far this time. Even the pricier Android Wear watches like the Moto 360 start at just $249, and the pricing model for watch bands isn’t anywhere near what Apple is charging.
The Apple Watch Edition can’t be overlooked either. For thousands of dollars more, you’re getting the same capabilities of the Apple Watch Sport with premium exterior materials. Some have drawn comparisons to Rolex watches and said that it’s similar. Here’s a key difference: The Apple Watch Edition has a lifetime of a couple of years. A Rolex will last a human lifetime and beyond.
No matter how you look at it, the Apple Watch doesn’t hit that sweet spot that it was aiming for. It’s an overpriced device that doesn’t offer anything to justify the high price. Will it sell? That remains to be seen. Apple has a marketplace charisma that can’t be matched. But one thing is certain: Android Wear doesn’t need to fear the Apple Watch.
Android Wear is an operating system that’s already begun refining itself and delivering a better product to customers. It has arguably more functionality than the Apple Watch, and in many ways it beats the UI and software of the Apple Watch. More than that, Android Wear is open and available for use by manufacturers, allowing it to run on better devices at lower price points.
Though many feared that the Apple Watch would deal a lethal blow to Android Wear, it seems that the little green robot will carry on without a problem. Will it face some new competition? Undoubtedly. But Android Wear won’t be beat by the Apple Watch. It may even be strengthened by this latest battle. It will carry on to reach new audiences and power new devices.
Android Wear has a bright future ahead.