13 Mar 2015
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Who is really going to by the Apple Watch anyway?

By Shannon Williams

Apple this week announced that its long-awaited smartwatch would be released in April. Among the surprises was the large price gap between the lowest-end model, which will cost around USD $350, and the highest, which will be nearly $17,000 and encased in gold.

In the wake of the big announcements, faculty members from IMD Business School have weighed in on whether or not they will buy the latest Apple gizmo. 

Dominique Turpin, IMD president says, "If I buy an Apple Watch it will be more out of curiosity than out of necessity. I love my mechanical watches, especially the craftsmanship as well as the emotional magic that go with them.”

Turpin says, “Great brands appeal to people's emotions. The more emotion a brand carries, the more iconic it is. This is one of the great values of all major luxury watch brands such as Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, Hublot or Rolex. 

“Obviously, Apple has also been very successful at building the emotional magic of its brand. This is probably why many consumers will be tempted to try it,” he says.

Misiek Piskorski, professor of strategy and innovation, says, “I love the Apple Watch, but I am not going to buy it for myself, because I already have an iPhone, an iPad, and 3 Macs. 

“I might buy it as a present for my mom though. I think she will enjoy the ability to use Facebook when she is on the go."

Mike Wade, professor of Innovation, doesn’t look to be buying the watch any time soon. "Am I going to buy the new Apple Watch? For $350? Probably not,” he says. “For $550? Definitely not. For $10,000 with a rose gold case? Are you joking?” 

Wade says one of the reasons is because the Apple Watch is ugly. “I expected much more in the way of design from Apple. Let's be honest: the Apple Watch looks like a miniature version of the iPhone 3Gs on a strap.”

Battery life is also a factor. “If a watch battery is measured in hours rather than days or weeks, then you know it is in trouble,” Wade says. “The Apple Watch is rated for 18 hours with typical use – not even a full day! What is the point of a sleep monitoring function if it needs to be charged every night?”

Wade adds, “It doesn't do anything that I can't already do with my phone. The Apple Watch is useless without the iPhone, and redundant with it. “Until a smartwatch is a substitute for a phone rather than a complement, I will not be interested.”

Wade says he is a heavy user of Apple products, but the watch does not tempt him at all. “In any case, I already have a watch. It does nothing except tell the time, which I don't need. But, it is beautiful, and it never stops!"

Howard Yu, professor of strategic management and innovation, says, "This watch may soon turn a previously unruly landscape that's been littered with many single function wearables into a user-friendly experience around our wrists.

He says Apple's latest foray has elicited sneers among the luxury goods players, in particular the watch industry, which ‘prides itself on artisanal craftsmanship and timeless prestige’.  “Others have shrugged at the thought of checking emails on a tiny display while having a full-size iPhone in one's pocket anyway.”

Yu says such arguments are misplaced. “When the iPhone first appeared, no one could have envisioned the applications created by third-party developers,” he says. 

“Now imagine the possibilities for the Apple Watch when consumers are equipped with a fully functional computer around their wrists, with millions of creative individuals and startups developing new applications. That's Apple's strategy and I might just get an Apple Watch soon!"

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