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Golden Apple: Thoughts on potential Apple Watch prices

Michael Simon | March 9, 2015
I can't remember a time in Apple's history when I was this anxious about a slide. On Monday morning, Tim Cook will take the stage and fill in all of the blanks he left during September's Apple Watch demo; we'll learn about apps and battery life and bands, and then sometime toward the end of his presentation, he'll click his remote and the room will go silent.

I can't remember a time in Apple's history when I was this anxious about a slide. On Monday morning, Tim Cook will take the stage and fill in all of the blanks he left during September's Apple Watch demo; we'll learn about apps and battery life and bands, and then sometime toward the end of his presentation, he'll click his remote and the room will go silent.

For the past six months we've been speculating and arguing about what Apple Watch will cost, studying gold prices and Rolex catalogues as we try to get some kind of a handle on how much we need to save if we want a Link Bracelet or a Milanese Loop. All we know for sure is that it starts at $349 — a fact you wouldn't know by looking at the Apple Watch website. Had Cook not revealed the starting price at the end of Apple's iPhone 6 event, we would be completely in the dark; over the pages and pages of gorgeous images and enticing text there isn't a single mention of a dollar amount.

Cost of customization

Apple's entry-level Watch certainly isn't cheap, but it's well within the range of what we expect to pay for a smartwatch. LG's Android Wear-powered G Watch R sells for $299, and the stylish Urbane unveiled earlier this week is sure to top that. Add in the so-called Apple tax and $349 actually seems a little low for a first-generation Apple gadget of this caliber.

Tim didn't explicitly say which Apple Watch you'll be able to get for that price, but common sense says it's the Sport version, with a silver or space gray aluminum case and a fluoroelastomer bands. It's also safe to assume that price specifically refers to the 38mm model, but it's been suggested it also might be limited to the white band (the same one Cook and Jony Ive like have been photographed wearing), with Apple charging a little extra for colored bands.

And it only goes up from there. Apple Watch is by far the company's broadest product category, with 12 case models and some 20 bands, and Apple's site is making it seem more like a prized piece of jewelry than a gadget, breaking down the features much in the way a glossy catalog would. Instead of tech specs there's a gallery; chips and carriers are replaced by grades and closures.

Living on the edge

Apple may have a reputation for selling overpriced gadgets and computers to affluent, indiscriminate buyers, but in actuality its products have never been more affordable. The iPhone established the starting-at-$199 premium smartphone model, but when it was released it cost $599 on contract. The MacBook Air can be had for under $1,000 today when just a few short years ago it cost $1,800. And you can buy a touch, a nano, and a shuffle for less than the cost of the original $399 iPod.

 

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