The Apple brand is valuable, but it’s not as “valued” as these signs of affluence, and I wonder how the company will tackle that challenge? This may feel like a silly topic to discuss, but if you dive into the business model for Apple, you’ll find it definitely targets those with discretionary income with its prices for the iPhone, iPad, Macbook Air, etc. Are these people going to replace one aspiration with another? Are they going to work an iWatch into the rotation with their Cartier or IWC?
Or maybe the affluent, techie audience will start wearing a watch on both arms? This sounds preposterous -- like something GQ will immediately nix -- but there will likely be a portion of the audience who views the iWatch simply as tech, and not timepiece. I would never wear two watches, but more often than not I do have my FitBit on one arm and my watch on the other. From that perspective, it’s not as a far a stretch as one might imagine.
Another consideration: Are we going to buy a new watch every year, or every other year, when the updated model comes out? Apple lovers are known for standing in line to acquire the latest model, but will that same brand loyalty apply to a watch? If it’s a watch of some value, will people really replace it every year? What about women? Are women the target audience for a techie-type watch, or will Apple cater to fashionistas with different, more fashion-conscious models?
The concept of wearable tech requires more sense of fashion than industrial design. The iPhone arrived in a beautiful form factor, immediately eclipsing everything else in the category and inspiring imitation from day one. A watch is a well-established piece of fashion, one that runs the gamut from trendy fad to timeless (pun intended) classic. Planning for an entrant in this highly anticipated category is no small feat -- certainly why we have seen more rumors than action for such a long period of time.
Don’t get me wrong -- I think Apple will sell millions of these things when they launch, because I’m certain there is a portion of the audience that will want one, and achieving that dream will be well within their grasp. The younger audience will likely hop on this trend quickly, and some more established segments will be interested as well. I am simply curious about how Apple will tackle the age-old challenge of being a premium brand in a category that is considered far more premium than where it currently resides. Everyone has a cell phone these days, but not everyone has a luxury watch. What about those higher-end targets? Will Apple partner with Rolex to develop the iRolex? Will they get in bed with Louis Vuitton for the iLouis?
This issue will certainly makes for some interesting brand alignments, won’t it?