Apple Watch -- Finally, A Wearable People Want To Wear

There is, of course, only one story in town today. The Apple Watch is announced and open for pre-orders from April 10th for delivery, and in-store purchase, from April 24th onwards. Prices for the three models, available in two screen sizes, will start at GBP299 and go up to an eye-opening GBP13,500. 

Put simply, this is the wearable that people will actually want to wear. Google Glass has fallen by the wayside, and fitness trackers are the preserve of the ultra-keen who don't mind spending a hundred pounds or more on a wristband for which virtually no thought ever seems to have been put in on the design side. This is the complete opposite with the Apple Watch, which will sell on the basis that it looks fantastic and clearly reflects the investment the company put into hiring Burberry's Angela Ahrends and watch designer Marc Newson. In case anyone was under any doubt about whether Apple would reach upward to become a luxury tech retailer or stoop down to brings its brands in to a price war, all you need to do is look at whom Apple is hiring and take a glance at the high-end design -- and price tag -- of the Apple Watch.

So what are people going to do with an Apple Watch, and how will this offer opportunities to marketers? Early apps, announced yesterday, were rather limited to Uber, Instagram and a BMW service that will allow forgetful motorists to have their doors unlocked remotely. There's been a separate announcement today of a Guardian app for news flashes and football scores. 

By the time April 24th comes around, you can guarantee there will be a whole lot more -- and these will offer a wide variety of sponsorship opportunities such as the weather, headlines and football scores brought to you by brand x. Interestingly, it was announced yesterday that more than 700,000 venues now accept Apple Pay, including a who's who of large brands in America. When the technology comes to the UK, it could be the killer app marketers can build in to retail and loyalty apps. Being able to store and redeem loyalty points and voucher codes linked to a shopper app just has to make so much sense. Throw in iBeacons to remind people, who have given permission, what their points could buy them today or where the best deals are to be had -- and you have potentially a hugely powerful tool.

On a more practical everyday level, Apple Pay has to have huge implications for small purchases and ticketing. It's not too much of a stretch to imagine London commuters and beyond "tapping out" through their watch, rather than an Oyster card or credit card, The same goes for concert and theatre tickets. Just tap a screen and out pop your tickets. No verification codes, no typing -- just tap and go.

Now there's an elephant in the room in the form of battery power. Apple's dressing it up as a "whole day" -- but it's actually six hours shy with a claimed life of 18 hours which, one can imagine, will be reduced if the Watch is used significantly during the day.

Until that improves, everything done on a Watch will surely have to replicated in the iCloud and devised so it can be completed through an iPhone or production of a pre-registered credit or debit card. Otherwise, you can imagine how many stranded commuters or angry shoppers you would have as people look to a dead screen on their wrist for confirmation they have prepaid for their purchase or reserved the best seats in the house.

So there's a proviso. The Apple Watch is going to take the world by storm and present marketing, retail, loyalty, CRM and ticketing opportunities that have never been quite so mobile and potentially seamless. However, for the time being, they will have to be cross-device. The battery problem will likely be solved, or at least improved, in a year or two, but until then, the Watch will almost certainly need the support of its big brother, the iPhone, to start weaving its magic.


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