It's Apple Watch TIME! Initial Sales Approaching $1 BILLION Already

News Richard Goodwin 07:42, 23 Apr 2015

Apple Watch release date confirmed for April. Here's EVERYTHING else you need to know about Apple's wearable

After what seems like an eternity of waiting, speculation, analyst predictions about prices and marketing, and all that other guff, the Apple Watch is finally here. At long last.

The Apple Watch has been on everyone's lips since Apple's initial unveiling in 2014, alongside the new Macbook lineup.

Apple Watch Specs & Hardware

  • Sizes: 38mm and 42mm: 38 mm: 21.2 x 26.5 mm, 33.5 mm (1.32 in) diagonally, 272 x 340 pixels,
  • 42 mm: 24.3 x 30.5 mm, 39 mm (1.5 in) diagonally, 312 x 390 pixels
  • Versions: Apple Watch , Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition complete with a variety of strap choices for each model
  • Retina touchscreen display with Force Touch, and sapphire glass or Ion-X glass cover depending on model
  • Taptic Engine and built-in speaker for instant tactile feedback
  • Custom S1 SiP (System in Package) chip
  • Sensors: accelerometer, built-in heart rate sensor
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • NFC support (for Apple Pay payments)
  • Digital Crown Home button
  • 18-hours battery life and MagSafe charging
  • Compatibility: iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus
  • Apple Pay and Siri support

Naysayers claimed the Apple Watch would flop; that people weren’t interested in wearables and yet Apple has nearly racked up $1 BILLION in orders thus far –– and the thing’s only been on sale for a couple of weeks. Hell, most people won’t even be getting their units until later on inside Q2. Not a bad start for Apple’s first new product line in five years. 

“About 85% of the pre-ordered Apple Watches are believed to be the Apple Watch Sport model,” reports 2paragraphs, “which is either $349 or $399. Taking the rough average of $375, and using 85% of the 2.3 million units (1.955 MM), that would mean Apple has collected $733,125,000 on just the Apple Sport so far. If 15% of the orders are for the regular Apple Watch, as suspected, at an average of $575 per unit, that another $198, 375,00. Altogether that's $931 million plus. And that doesn't even count today's orders! Or the extras like the wide range of bands for sale.”

Apple will apparently hit 2.4 million sales before April 24, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo claims that 85% of sales will come from the Watch Sport, 15 per cent from the Watch and one per cent from the Watch Edition. This would seem to fit with current polls on what smartwatch is the favourite, with most customers wanting the Watch Sport with the $300 cheaper price-tag.

Echoing this sentiment, Ben Wood, chief of research, CSS Insights said: “We predict that 20 million Apple Watches will be sold by the end of 2015. This is based on assessing the addressable market of compatible iPhones and also analysing initial iPad sales. We believe the iPad had similar characteristics to Apple Watch as it is a non-subsidised device which consumers bought without a clear understanding of exactly why they needed it. Apple will be hoping consumers will ‘grow into’ the Apple Watch in the same way that iPad owners did.

Save for the Apple TV, the Apple Watch –– well, at least the base model –– is one of the cheapest products Apple has ever released, with a starting price of $349. However, in the same breath it's also the most expensive, as Apple revealed the base cost for the premium, gold-plated Apple Watch Edition starts at...wait for it...$10,000. Yes you read that correctly. It is this type of angling by Apple which has many a pundit frothing at the mouth about the potential tied up in Apple’s first foray into the wearables space. Could it be the product that helps Apple reduce its reliance on the iPhone?

Steve Wozniak, in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, regaled readers with his thoughts on Apple’s new product line, the Apple Watch. Wozniak, still an honorary Apple employee and new Ozzie resident, said he watched the launch of Apple’s first wearable with baited breath, but neglected to confirm whether or not he’d eventually invest in one long term –– he’s apparently going to try the entry level model first, before taking the plunge with a more expensive model. The Apple founder admitted to trying a few Samsung wearable devices, too, but these were almost immediately discarded once the novelty had worn off. 

“If you buy the really high-priced ones, the jewellery ones, then you're not buying a smartwatch that has a bunch of apps … Like a Rolex watch, you're buying if for prestige and a label and a symbol of who you are,” Mr Wozniak said. “The fact is the difference between a $10,000 watch and a $17,000 dollar watch is only the band, and for an engineer like me I don't live in that world, that's not my world.”

According to details from analyst firm Slice Intelligence, Apple Watch buyers in the US have pre-ordered more than 1 million units of the wearable since it went liveon Friday 10 April. Unsurprisingly, the highest-selling so far is not the £8,000 gold-plated edition, no, it's the considerably more affordable entry-level version; the Apple Watch Sport - around 62% of the orders placed so far are the Sport edition. Interestingly, customers have been more keen on the larger 42mm size option overall. The smaller 32mm option seems to be more common in the Apple Sport category than elsewhere, however, it seems  those opting for the more expensive versions go for a bigger device.

The most popular colour choice is Space Grey Aluminium, accounting for around 40% of orders. Following this is the silver stainless steel at 34%. Space Black appears to have been least popular at a mere 3%, but black was the most popular strap choice accounting for 49% of all strap choices.

According to a report from Reuters, Apple is expected to ramp up production of the Apple Watch in order to meet high demand for the range of wearable devices. Following news that some pre-order customers in some regions were having their shipping dates pushed back by four to six weeks, while others face the dubious prospect of waiting until July! Analysts believe Apple has received around 1 million pre-orders and it's thought the company is ramping up production to meet the higher-than-expected demand .

Apple Watch Release Date

The Apple Watch will be available on pre-order from April 10 ahead of its April 24 release date. The base model will retail for $349, as previously reported, while the top of the line, Kayne West-style Apple Watch Edition will retail for a bankrupting $10,000 –– yep, we were shocked by that figure too. 

Apple Watch will also be available to preview or try on at Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Isetan in Tokyo and Selfridges in London on April 10. Apple Watch will be for sale on April 24 at these select department store shop-in-shops, and at boutiques in major cities across the world including  Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo, Maxfield in Los Angeles, and The Corner in Berlin.

A handful of Apple Watch colours are already sold out, meaning you won’t be able to get hold of these until at least mid-to-late-June, once the first batch of orders have gone out. In true Apple style, certain variants of the Apple Watch sold out in minutes, so don’t expect to be purchasing the Sport Band with a black band or space grey case, or the expensive Link bracelet in any colour until later on in 2015. 

The delays are getting worse –– much worse. According to reports, Apple has now pushed back shipments on pre-ordered Apple Watch units to 4 to 6 weeks on nearly all models. The only model available for delivery between April 24 and May 8 is the 38mm stainless steel Apple Watch with classic black buckle, though only if in the UK. 

In addition to this, Apple Watch Edition units have also had their release dates pushed back to June, while some models –– the 38mm rose and yellow gold, for instance –– aren’t even listed as available. Make of that what you will. 

Apple will apparently launch a "second wave" of Apple Watch pre-orders as of May 8. The crop of wearables will be available for consumers to pre-order in 21 countries, although it's not clear exactly which nations will enjoy the privelige. The report comes from an Italian tech site, and alleges Italy will be pre-ordering from that date, but where it goes from there is anybody's guess. Pre-orders will be accepted online and in Apple Stores, however, although you may place an order in store you'll still have to wait for it until a later date. There's currently no indication for how long buyers may have to wait to see their pre-order appear.

Altogether there are 38 potential combinations for Apple Watch, so even if you don’t get the one you want right away, you’re sure to be able to piece together something else that looks good. All pre-orders, it’s worth noting, must be done online –– Apple does not want queues outside its stores. It’s just so uncouth, darling. There is quite a bit of angst building online over release dates, however, as more and more reports are coming in about 4-to-6-week waiting time for deliveries.  

“The Apple Watch will be released on April 24,” reports Wired, “but it will only be possible at launch to buy one of the devices online. Apple is offering "fitting" appointments at its stores, and will feature a full range of watches for customers to try on and play with. But to actually buy one you'll need to order on Apple's website or via the mobile app -- the days of the Apple queue, at least for this product, appear to be numbered.”

Apple Watch Price

Apple Watch is available in three collections and two sizes for each collection, starting with Apple Watch Sport, priced at £299 inc VAT and £339 inc VAT; Apple Watch, available from £479 inc VAT to £949 inc VAT; and Apple Watch Edition, crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys, with prices starting at £8,000 inc VAT.

But which Apple Watch is right for you? Mike took a look at all the combinations and models in order to find out. 

All the straps come in either 38mm or 42mm sizes (listed as "Small" or "Large"), each is compatible ONLY with its corresponding body type, but apart from this all the straps of one size cateogry or the other are completely interchangeable. The basic option is the Sport Band with a pin fastening, made from rubbery plastic, it comes in more subdued black, grey, or white options, as well as bright colours, and costs £39.

Next up there's the "Classic Buckle" style with a traditional buckle design, or the "Modern Buckle" which adds a more sleek finish to the same idea, these cost £129 and £209 respectively are made from leather. The Classic only appears to be available in black for now, while the Modern has a selection of colours.

Also at £129 is the "Milanese Loop" with a woven metal finish in silver and a magentic clasp, and the Leather Loop which fastens the same way but has a ridged leather texture in a selection of colors.

Lastly, there's the Link Bracelet for £379 availble in a metal finishe and using a traditional butterfly clasp. At present there is only a silver option.

Apple Watch Design, Display & Build –– How It All Fits Together 

Hey did you ever look at a piece of tech and think "I'd like to see what that looks like inside?", well if you thought that about the Apple Watch you're in luck, because prominent artist Martin Hajek has produced one of his wonderful renders to show us its innards.

As well as the gorgeous metal chassis we can also see the battery cell, crown assembly, Taptic Feedback co-processor and S1 processor. Quite amazing imagery eh?

Apple has created what it calls a Digital Crown, a spinning dial on the side of the watch that you spin to zoom in and out of apps or rotate down through apps. This method of interaction ensures the display is never covered, meaning you can always see what’s being displayed on its screen – even when moving around the UX. The screen does still support touch input, however, and what's more it has "force sensitivity" so it can tell how hard you're pressing - this means it can perform different functions with different levels of pressure on the display.

Apple will retail three types of Apple Watch: Apple Watch, Apple Watch Sport and Apple Watch Edition. Each model is available in two sizes; 42mm and 38mm – one for women and one for men – and Apple also has six different strap options, which users can switch around at their leisure. There's also a selection of six material finishes and colour options, though some are tied to specific models.

The materials include Stainless Steel, Silver Aluminium, 18-Karat Gold, Space Black Stainless Steel, Space Grey Aluminium, and 18-Karat Rose Gold. The steel options are only for the Apple Watch Sport, and the gold is only available on the Apple Watch Edition - which also features a coloured crown.

The strap options include a traditional link bracelet, a plastic sports band, a leather loop, a classic buckle design, a modern buckle design, and a "Milanese" loop featuring a sort of mesh design. Each strap type is available in different colours and finishes too.

The watches design features a square face with rounded edges that curve around from front to back smoothly. As well as the dial, there's also a button input, but apart from this the bodywork is largely uninterrupted - there are no ports as all the charging and data transfer is handled by wireless protocols. The back panel is ceramic and features sensors for use with health apps and magnets to guide it to the correct position on the Magsafe wireless charger.

How It Works magazine has, quite literally, delved into what makes the Apple Watch tick. Early today the magazine’s people passed along an infographic all about the Apple Watch to our inbox and, well, we just had to share it with you. 

Some of the key features highlighted in the infographic include: 

  • Customisable appearance: Available in two screen sizes, 38 or 48mm long, and six strap types, each with multiple colours; made with six body materials (including 18-karat rose gold)
  • Digital crown: Rotate to zoom, scroll and navigate precisely without obscuring the screen; push to return to the home screen
  • Friends button: Brings up a shortlist of chosen inner-circle contacts
  • TouchScreen: Retina display laminated onto super-hard polished sapphire crystal or Ion-X glass; can distinguish between a light tap and a purposeful press
  • Battery: A full charge lasts about a day with normal usage
  • Touchless payment via Apple Pay
  • Custom heart-rate sensor: Visible and infrared LEDs and photosensors work together to read the wearer’s heart rate
  • S1 chip: Entire computer system miniaturised into one chip, encased in a resin shell to protect it from the elements, impact and wear

Apple Watch Software Detailed –– How It ACTUALLY Works

Apple Insider with a little bit of help from developer Steven Troughton-Smith has been digging around inside the latest build of iOS 8 (iOS 8.2) to find out more about how the Apple Watch companion app for iPhone will work and, more importantly, what type of features users can expect to see when the Apple Watch launches in April. 

“With the companion app,” said the report, “users will be able to configure a number of custom settings, such as what content is displayed on the Apple Watch, what music or photos are stored locally on the device, personalised text message quick-reply choices, and much more.”

The report does point out that the companion application is still in beta, meaning stuff –– namely the way things look –– could change dramatically been now and the full, gold-standard release of iOS 8.2. As it stands, however, the companion app has four parent menus that correspond to contacts, health-related applications, messages, and calendar. 

Now let’s take a closer look at Apple Insider’s findings and how they relate to core features of the Apple Watch and its companion application. We’re only going to scratch the surface here in order to give you a taste of what’s to come. For a more detailed break-down do be sure to check out the post in full HERE

Apple's WWDC 2015 Announced for June 8

Apple has now officially revealed the start date for its annual WWDC event taking place in San Franciso, California, on June 8. The yearly event sees Apple reveal details of its forthcoming software updates for mobile and Mac computers, namely through new versions of iOS and OS X. The company is expected to be prepping a showcase of iOS 9 for phones and tablets, but it's thought there will be a continued emphasis from 2014's WWDC on overlapping features and integration of the two platforms. On top of this, Apple is understood to be very interested in the Internet of Things; ie: smart appliances, homes, and vehicles. And in addition, Apple is thought to be prepping more details of its rumoured music service, the one it acquired Beats Audio to develop, aswell as Apple Pay. Of course, the Apple Watch has a place in all this, from updated software through to greater integration with Apple's other devices and services. 

Apple Watch Battery 

Apple CEO Tim Cook has come out and admitted what many already assumed to be the case: the Apple Watch will need to be charged everyday. Cook was speaking at the WSJ.D conference in California when he said the Apple Watch will need to be charged daily but insisted the device is still “profound”.

He also confirmed the Apple Watch will not be the big money-spinner for the company right away. Cook said the iPhone "will continue to be a majority of the company’s revenue and profits for the foreseeable future". 

The Apple Watch uses its own, specialised MagSafe charging system and the cable you’ll be using ships with the device itself. The system is designed to be really easy to use, as noted by Apple on its Apple Watch webpage:

“We wanted to make charging your Apple Watch utterly effortless. So we arrived at a solution that combines our MagSafe technology with inductive charging. It’s a completely sealed system free of exposed contacts. And it’s very forgiving, requiring no precise alignment. You simply hold the connector near the back of the watch, where magnets cause it to snap into place automatically.

From flat, the Apple Watch can hit 80% charge inside 1.5 hours. For a full charge from flat, the Apple Watch takes just over 2.5 hours. 

Details about how applications on the Apple Watch have been posted online by Bloomberg. According to the report, Apple is very keen on ensuring the apps and content that run on Apple Watch are useful and not at all annoying. For this reason, the company has outlined some pretty strict guidelines for developers to ensure there is no negative affect on the Apple Watch’s battery from applications being open too long. Everything affects battery from the screen to vibrations for notifications. 

Apple is apparently very focused on getting EVERYTHING right

“Apple has recommended that developers be judicious about interrupting people with constant alerts that will buzz their wrist or drain the battery. If desktop computers can be used for hours at a time, and smartphones for minutes, the watch is being measured in seconds. Apple is suggesting developers design their applications to be used for no longer than 10 seconds at a time,” said the report.

A report from The New York Times, citing unnamed sources, claims Apple has a secret tool up its sleeve to ensure better battery performance abaord its Apple Watch: “Apple’s watch team ‘developed a yet-to-be-announced feature called Power Reserve.’ As the name implies,” says BGR, “the Apple Watch in Power Reserve mode will run on low energy and will only display the time. Which is to say, all of the device’s other functions such as notifications and activity monitoring will presumably go into a sleep mode in an effort to conserve juice.”

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