Eyes Are Watching Apple Today

The time has come today for the Apple Watch which — unless analysts and media are wrong in a way most haven’t been since the tech crash that launched this very week in 2000 — will be announced at its “Spring Forward” event that will stream live starting at 10 a.m. PDT today.

“Is It A Gadget Or A Fashion Statement,” asks a Reuters hed, answering by suggesting that it the Watch will be, at the least, both — “a fact tacitly acknowledged by Apple's decision to launch its advertising campaign with a 12-page insert in the March issue of Vogue.”

Nandita Bose and Piya Sinha Roy further report that although “the company isn’t talking about plans for marketing the Apple Watch in advance … it clearly intends to keep a tight grip on initial sales and distribution, leaving many retailers guessing about when — or if — they'll be able to sell it.”



It’s telling, indeed, that Daisuke Wakabayashi’s piece in the Wall Street Journal today is all about the marketing of the watch, which reportedly will have versions ranging from $349 to upwards of $10,000, rather than what it can do besides, presumably, tell time. It will also, it is hoped, tell people something about the person wearing one. To that end, the German brand Brikk, for one, will be offering a reconstructed, diamond-encrusted version in gold or platinum casing for— did you ask? — oh, around 75 grand.

“Apple wants to create more than an alternative to other smartwatches,” Wakabayashi writes. It is aiming for a status timepiece like those produced by Rolex, Patek Philippe and other high-end Swiss watchmakers. But that raises the issue of obsolescence.”

Indeed, most of the consumers USA Today’s Jefferson Graham polled in a random sampling on the boardwalk in Venice Beach said they would be averse to upgrading watches as if they were phones. That’s one of the reasons they are being positioned as more than a mere device bearing software.

“To help establish its credentials as a luxury brand, Apple has been courting the fashion industry,” Wakabayashi writes. “A few weeks after it unveiled the Apple Watch in September, [chief designer Jonathan] Ive and members of his design team took a private jet to Paris during Fashion Week to show off the new device to a who’s who of taste makers.”

 It has also recruited names such as Paul Deneve, the former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, and Angela Ahrendts , the former chief of Burberry PLC, and is reportedly redesigning its retail stores and training staff to accommodate customers who want to make a  personal statement with the accoutrement, Wakabayashi reports.

Time’s Matt Vella has a piece titled “Everything We Know About The Apple Watch So Far” that includes a link to a 15-slide compendium of its known features, only one of which is “one of the device's main selling points” — a fitness app.

It will be interesting to see how it advances what’s already out there. But self-confessed “obsessive runner” Graham Bower writes on Cult of Mac that the Watch’s lack of GPS sensors — you’ll need to bring along your iPhone for that function — will keep other fitness wearable in the race, at least for now.

Back to those high-end models. There is, of course, a sentiment among some that dictates that discretion — aka, not flaunting it — is the better part of having it to spend. Not to worry, as aspirational markets are blooming.

“Even if Americans and Europeans prove unwilling to shell out $10,000 for gold Apple Watches that are the same as $349 Apple Watches and will go stale in a year,” Scott Galloway, founder of the luxury think tank L2, suggests, “China will go hog wild for them,” analyst Henry Blodgett writes for Business Insider.

Apple, meanwhile, replaced AT&T in the Dow Jones Industrial Averages index Friday, marking a 15-year ascendancy from niche marketer of an alternative to the PC to a company that creates trends out of whole cloth.

“Apple has done the best job in technology of defining new markets, dominating new markets and doing so profitably,” Michael Sansoterra, a managing director at Silvant Capital Management, tells the Wall Street Journal’s Corrie Driebusch and Saumya Vaishampayan in a piece with a subhed that refers to the stock as the “Onetime Ugly Duckling Of The Market.”

And today, like many a striver who has made good, it will be flashing gold.

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