Time Has Come for Apple to Reveal Details of Its Smartwatch
Apple has scheduled a media event for Monday, and the "spring forward" theme leaves little doubt that this will be when the consumer tech giant offers up specs, prices and release dates for the smart watch. Apple is late to the party: Smartphone rival Samsung (SSNLF) hit the market with its Galaxy Gear smart watch two years ago. It hasn't gained a lot of traction and it's now on its second generation as well as second operating system platform.
This has been a hard market to crack. Tech giants Qualcomm (QCOM) and Sony (SNE) have also tried to take the smartwatch market by the wrist, but ho-hum reviews and an unenthused marketplace have resulted in chilly receptions.
Apple can change that, of course. It's the ultimate tastemaker. It made the smartphone cool for consumers with the iPhone. It ushered in the tablet era a few years later with the introduction of the iPad. Apple Watch could be the world's most valuable tech company's next hit. With Apple shares hitting fresh all-time highs, it may very well need to be a hit to keep the good times going.
Watch This Space
The watch that Apple showed off back in September was a fashionably slick device, using several ways to navigate the otherwise small screen. The digital crown, swipes and a button on the side can help wearers go through notifications, personalized updates and apps.
It's not going to be cheap. The chatter has the new smartwatch starting at $350 -- with higher-end models fetching as much as $950. The price will be a factor. Unlike the iPhone, for which stateside carriers subsidize most of the cost in exchange for a two-year commitment, folks will likely have to buy the Apple Watch at the retail price just as they do with iPads and iPods. Spoiler alert: Apple's iPad and iPod sales have been shrinking in recent quarters.
After seeing the first wave of smartwatches crash -- except for perhaps niche pioneer Pebble -- can Apple succeed? It can, and it's important to remember all of the advantages that Apple has these days.
An Apple a Day
Apple is the undisputed champ of premium consumer electronics, and its army of iPhone users is growing. Apple sold a record 74.5 million iPhones during the holiday quarter alone, building the audience of potential buyers of the smartwatch device that uses the phone's connectivity to serve up apps, notifications, and more.
It also only helps that Apple is rolling out the Apple Watch after the larger iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus came out. Bigger smartphones are harder to take out of and put back into pockets as calls and notifications come in, making the high-tech wristwatches a welcome luxury. It will also make it more convenient to help grow Apple Pay usage, since the smartwatches can settle up transactions that way.
The market hasn't taken to smart watches, but Apple has a knack for educating the masses. Apple's success is probably the best thing that could happen to Samsung, Sony, and others. It would validate the medium, paving the way for cheaper options. So, yes, Apple has a lot to prove next week, but a lot of Apple's rivals are hoping that it succeeds so they can once again ride the tech tastemaker's coattails.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Qualcomm. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and owns shares of Apple and Qualcomm. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Check out our free report on the Apple Watch to learn where the real money is to be made for early investors.