I'll start, upfront, by stating that I believe that the Apple Watch will be a commercial success. They will sell huge volumes at all price points. The Apple juggernaut will continue to speed along. Now that's out of the way what do I really think ?
Firstly, there can be zero doubt that Apple is now a fully fledged luxury brand. Back in September 2013 after Apple launched the iPhone 5c and 5s I wrote that "Apple should have gone for a wider price point range accelerating growth in new markets (getting more users) and doing more to create a genuinely more luxurious top offering with real material differentiation, commanding a much higher price (retaining HWI and opinion formers)." I didn't get everything spot on in that blog post but I've been proven right with my thinking on Apple becoming a more luxurious brand with bold vertical range expansion.
That vertical expansion came alive yesterday in San Francisco. It raises revenue, expands appeal and enhances the entire brand proposition at the moment when it seemed that everyone owned an iPhone. There can be no doubt that Apple is now a luxury brand.
Up until now their pricing could become stratospheric but this was based on tangible and rationale things - screen size, memory size, speed. With the Apple Watch Edition Collection and an model priced at $10,000 Apple have made it clear that they are determined to win a share of very discretionary spending.
Over the coming days and weeks there will be many reviews of the Apple Watch from people with much more technical insights than me but I would like to address what I see is the principle weakness of Apple Watch. Battery life.
Battery life is the curse which bedevils all of Apple's smaller devices. Take the iPhone 6. A slightly improved battery performance but sill nowhere near to meeting the needs of a busy professional. I defy anyone to take it off the charger at 6am and still be going strong at 6pm. And for many people there is still another 6 hours before they get home.
My work around ?
A suite of external battery packs which I select depending on what my plans are for the day / evening. In actual fact what that really means is I now don't let my new Anker pack out of my sight. It's heavy and wieldy but with 10 full iPhone 6 charges in it I can relax and come to the assistance of lesser mortals when the need arises.
Usability and addictive qualities are two of Apple's biggest strengths......and weaknesses. They, and the developer community, have created game changing apps and functionality which result in high usage.
A few years ago, in a different guise, I can clearly recall a spirited discussion with a product manager when I asked about the battery life of a pending new product. He kept quoting the 'standby' stat and I kept asking what that meant in terms of real use. If a device is not switched on or used it has a battery life you can measure in days and weeks ! But that's not the point.
You switch it on and use it.
Which makes Apple's heavily caveat-ed Apple Watch Battery page deeply concerning. The phrase "actual results may vary" is applied to every statistic. That combined with personal experience makes me sceptical of the published "18 hour" battery life - which is based on a minimum of usage. So let's be generous and say that with moderate use the life is 12 hours. Your busy entrepreneurial high net worth will hit the gym at 6am - which means by dinner time, just the moment he or she might want a discrete communication and information device on their wrist (more subtle than checking your phone during a business dinner) the battery makes the thing as useful their first Timex.
People put on a watch in the morning and they take if off at night. They are not in the habit of charging it during the day. And, remember a tethered Apple Watch to an iPhone will also drain the iPhone battery. So now your busy wearer has to worry about charging two devices at some point. I just don't think the world is ready to see $10,000 gold watches hanging from a spare mains outlet in a bar, restaurant or airport lounge.
As I said at the beginning I do believe they will sell a lot. I just reckon that a lot of them will end up discarded in the bedroom drawer after a few months.
Although there is one solution. You can buy two and swap them over during the day. Maybe that is the plan all along. Why spend $10,000 when you can spend $20,000 ?!