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Apple to fill in the blanks today on Watch prices, availability and more

Gregg Keizer | March 9, 2015
'Double-pump' introduction of Apple Watch puts it in VIP category.

Apple livestream info

Apple will live-stream its "Spring forward" event today (9 March 2015), when it's expected to tout the Apple Watch and reveal its pricing and on-sale date.

The to-do will take place at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, a frequent Apple venue, most recently for the October 2013 unveiling of the iPad Air.

Analysts anticipate that Apple will expand on the Watch's introduction last fall, when it showed off the device and began beating the promotional drum for the embryonic category.

The "double-pump" introduction -- the "one more thing" portion of the Sept. 9, 2014 presentation, and then next week's return to the Watch -- is very unusual for Apple.

It has done it before -- sort of -- but only for the most important products, touting something twice before sales begin, with the second round piggybacked on an already-slated event. In 2007, the iPhone's second stint on stage was at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, for example. But that repeat appearance was just nine minutes long.

Apple's reversed the order for the Watch, first riding the iPhone 6's coattails -- but for a long 47 minutes -- then giving the device its own dedicated event.

"The timing was such that they wanted to introduce it last year," noted Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research. "But there were many details that weren't finalized [at that time]. Apple wants to get the messaging right, or more accurately, make sure that the media has the essential information for the first splash."

Among the omissions last year was a full disclosure on pricing -- CEO Tim Cook only set the bottom-end Sport model's price at $349 -- for the line, which also includes the stainless steel Watch and 18-karat gold Edition models.

Apple will spell out prices for the three models, perhaps with different prices for the two sizes -- 38mm and 42mm -- and the cost of their accessory bands. The price list will likely be complex, what with 10 configurations for the Sport, 18 for the Watch and at least 6 for the Edition, and the on-screen matrix may tax the capabilities of Apple's Keynote gurus.

Speculation about the price of the Edition -- the most expensive model -- picked up steam this week, with seemingly every Apple-oriented analyst or pundit chiming in with their bets. The reaction to that speculation will crest on Monday, but early indications are that considerable "ink" will be spilled on the I-can't-believe-Apple's-charging-X-dollars refrain.

"The Edition 'controversy' is playing right into Apple's hands," tweeted Mark Tegethoff in a reply to independent analyst Ben Thompson of Stratechery. "All of a sudden a $350 item is being thought of as 'cheap.'"

 

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