Jury's out on Apple Watch, gold version may cost $24k
APPLE launched its long-awaited watch on Monday, including yellow or rose gold models with sapphire faces costing up to US$17,000 (S$24,000), but some investors questioned whether chief executive Tim Cook's first product would be a breakaway hit.
Apple's first new device since Mr Cook became CEO will be available for order on April 10 and in stores on April 24 in nine territories: Australia, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States.
Singapore is not on the list, but the Apple Singapore website states that the device will be available some time this year.
In a nod to both fashion and technology, Mr Cook on Monday shared the stage with model Christy Turlington Burns and Apple engineers who showed how to send drawings, pictures and even heartbeats with the watch.
Apple shares barely budged, however. Investors and analysts agreed that Apple would sell millions to fans, but questioned whether it had a "killer app" that would engage a broader audience. In September, Apple gave a sneak peek of the watch, which included many features shown on Monday.
"I think there's a niche market for these kind of Apple tech (comprising) people who love Apple and will buy anything they come out with. But I just don't know if it's going to be the power product that everyone's looking for," said Daniel Morgan, senior portfolio manager at Synovus Trust Company in Atlanta, Georgia, who described Wall Street as "scratching its head".
But Jan Dawson at Jackdaw Research said he expects Apple to sell around 20 million of the devices this year, which will "catalyse the overall smartwatch market and help other vendors even as Apple comes to enjoy levels of market share it hasn't had since the iPod".
The Apple Watch comes in three versions, with prices reflecting the materials used.
The Apple Watch Sport has an anodised aluminium case and starts from US$349. The standard Apple Watch has a stainless steel case and is priced from US$549.
The more premium Apple Watch Edition is crafted from custom rose or yellow 18K gold alloys developed to be twice as hard as standard gold. It starts from US$10,000, but can cost as much as US$17,000 if paired with a Modern Buckle band.
The Edition's price, which is inexpensive compared to a Patek Philippe Nautilus at just over US$42,000 on 11main.com, inspired plenty of jibes on social media, including many who questioned whether it would become outdated and compared the price to a car's. "Wonder what kind of gas mileage it gets," asked Twitter user Christopher Caruso.
Nevertheless, many made clear that they wanted it. "My birthday is gonna rock this year...:-) #applewatch," wrote Jay Runquist.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE