By John Gruber
Emma-Kate Symons goes full Apple-is-a-religious-cult in a piece for Quartz, “The Canonization of St. Steve of Cupertino”:
Take a new authorized hagiography of the late Apple founder, out today, with the propagandistic title of Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart into a Visionary Leader.
In this unabashedly flattering account, written with the overenthusiastic participation of Apple’s senior executives and staff, Cook tries a little too hard to rescue and reframe the partially tarred image of his former boss. The man was not “a greedy, selfish and egomaniac [sic],” he says adamantly, and only yelled at him, you know, about four or five times in his life.
There’s a lot to unpack in just these two paragraphs. For one thing, I don’t think Symons has actually read the book — (a) the book only came out yesterday, so unless she obtained an advance copy, she wrote her piece for Quartz having read only the published excerpts; and (b) even judging by the excerpts, I don’t see how anyone could call Becoming Steve Jobs “unabashedly flattering”.
Her screed comes across not as criticism of the book but as a cry for people to stop talking about Apple. “Please Stop Writing About How Successful Apple Is and How Great Steve Jobs Was, I Don’t Want to Hear It Anymore and There’s Something Weird About Anyone Who Does” would have been a better headline.
Even her use of “authorized” is curious. Authors Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli did obtain on-the-record interviews from current and former Apple executives, as well as Jobs’s wife. But that’s cooperation, not authorization. They were writing the book with or without Apple’s (or Laurene Powell Jobs’s) participation. If any book on Steve Jobs was “authorized”, it’s Walter Isaacson’s. Nor do I get Symons’s description of the book’s title as “propagandistic”. Love him or hate him, what reasonable person would disagree that Steve Jobs was a “visionary leader”?
But I’ll focus on hagiography. It’s perfectly reasonable to approach Becoming Steve Jobs with skepticism. Something along the lines of, “If Apple executives like Tim Cook, Eddy Cue, and Jony Ive cooperated with the authors, and are simultaneously expressing their displeasure with Isaacson’s 2011 book, that makes me suspect this new book is a whitewashing.”
Such skepticism is healthy. But I believe anyone who actually reads Becoming Steve Jobs with an open mind will be disabused of such concerns quickly. The book covers Steve Jobs’s failings unwaveringly, both the personal (e.g., regarding his denial of paternity of his first daughter, Lisa) and professional.
It’s possible that Apple cooperated with Becoming Steve Jobs with the intention of producing — or at least steering the project towards — a hagiography. It’s also possible they cooperated only with the intention of getting an accurate, truthful account of Jobs’s life and career on the record, and that Schlender and Tetzeli earned their trust.
The fundamental problem with Walter Isaacson’s Steve Jobs is not that the book is “negative”, or that it paints Jobs in an unflattering light. The problem with Isaacson’s book is that Isaacson didn’t understand Jobs’s work. He was granted unprecedented access to Jobs himself in his final years and he blew it. Jobs picked the wrong guy.
I covered the Isaacson book’s many shortcomings in detail back in 2012, and re-reading my critique today, it all stands. But none of my complaints were about whether the book was flattering or unflattering. My complaints were about glaring, blatant inaccuracies (e.g. this quote from Bill Gates, which Isaacson presented as factually true: “Amelio paid a lot for NeXT, and let’s be frank, the NeXT OS was never really used.”) and omissions. Isaacson barely covered the NeXT years, and almost completely ignored Jobs’s interest in software.
Becoming Steve Jobs is an outstanding book that fully stands on its own, not just as a response to Isaacson’s. As time goes on, it should stand as the definitive Jobs biography. Not because it paints him flatteringly, but because it paints him accurately — for better and for worse. The cooperation of those who were close to Jobs only served to make the book better. Schlender and Tetzeli did not set out to praise (or condemn) Jobs. They set out only to capture him, and they succeeded. ★
I realize there’s little purpose to further Apple Watch speculation at this point — in two days, we’ll know most of the answers. But there is one good reason for last-minute speculation: this is fun. Apple tends to be such a predictable company that we often know the basic gist of what to expect before one of their media events. Not this time. The many unknowns surrounding the watch are what makes it so fun to ponder prior to next week’s event. So let’s have some fun.
First, there’s this. The same day I published my piece on Apple Watch pricing, MacRumors forum member “pgiguere1” created a graphic with possible prices, posting it with the comment:
I made this speculative price list based in large part on Gruber’s speculation:
The graphic is a pastiche of genuine Apple marketing material. A trained eye can easily tell it’s not from Apple — the typefaces are ones Apple uses (San Francisco and Helvetica Neue) but the way they’re used is wrong. But it’s close enough to fool many, and the image has now circled the social media globe several times. I’ve received at least 50 emails and tweets from DF readers asking if I’ve seen this “leaked price list”.
So let’s put it to rest. This graphic is not a leaked price list. It’s speculation from a MacRumors forum member who read my piece on Apple Watch pricing. And, I think, it’s off in numerous ways.
But there is one thing about pgiguere1’s speculation that I hadn’t really considered: that the 42mm models might cost more than the 38mm ones, across the board. On pgiguere1’s list, the 42mm Sport models are $30 more expensive than the corresponding 38mm ones: $349/379. I’m torn on whether this will be the case. Apple isn’t referring to the two sizes as women’s and men’s — some women will wear the 42 and some men (and, I suspect, many boys) will wear the 38 — but in broad strokes the 38 is the women’s version and the 42 is the men’s. You can see that in the high-end leather straps. The feminine “Modern Buckle” is only available for the 38mm size, and the “Leather Loop” is only available for 42mm.
“Bigger costs more” makes sense — and it’s true for most Apple products, from iPhones to iPads to MacBooks. But with those products, your choice of device size is a matter of taste and personal preference. With Apple Watch, your choice of size is in large part determined by your anatomy.
If I had to wager today, I’d bet that 42mm models will cost more across all three collections. A nominal difference for Apple Sport — $349/379 looks right to my eyes. The difference for Edition models could be $1000 or more because they’re made from solid 18K gold. I’m not sure what to expect for the steel ones, though. $100 difference?
I think Apple’s messaging back in September was misleading, and I don’t think it was purposeful. I think it was a mistake that they will correct on Monday.
In September, the basic message was something like this: Watches are personal, and different people have different tastes, so we created a wide variety of bands to choose from so you can pick one that reflects your taste, and we made them easy to swap so you can change them depending on your mood or the occasion.
Most people took that to mean that your choice of band will largely be a matter of taste — that the various bands will be close to each other in terms of price. I know for a fact — from my email and tweets — that many Daring Fireball readers are hoping to buy an entry-level Apple Watch Sport and an optional Link Bracelet or Milanese Loop for maybe $150 or $200. And I also think most people expect the steel Apple Watches that come with the Link Bracelet or Milanese Loop to cost only, say, $150-200 more than the entry level models with the rubber — er, fluoroelastomer — bands.
I don’t think this is the case, at all.
I wrote about this two weeks ago, and upon further consideration, I am now thinking that the various Apple Watch bands will be priced in significantly stratified tiers.
Consider Apple’s description of what I am convinced is the highest-end strap, the Link Bracelet:
Crafted from the same 316L stainless steel alloy as the case, the Link Bracelet has more than 100 components. The machining process is so precise, it takes nearly nine hours to cut the links for a single band. In part that’s because they aren’t simply a uniform size, but subtly increase in width as they approach the case. Once assembled, the links are brushed by hand to ensure that the texture follows the contours of the design. The custom butterfly closure folds neatly within the bracelet. And several links feature a simple release button, so you can add and remove links without any special tools. Available in stainless steel and space black stainless steel.
Now, if you start with the assumptions that (a) the various watch bands are largely a matter of personal choice, (b) Apple will encourage Apple Watch buyers to mix and match bands, and (c) even the most expensive of them will only cost $200 or so, the above description reads as marketing braggadocio.
But if you start with the premise that the top-of-the-line steel Apple Watch will cost $1499 or maybe even $1999, the above description makes more sense. It’s an explanation for why the bracelet is so expensive. If it truly takes nine hours to cut the links for each band, and each one is polished by hand, and they’re mechanically complex (and they definitely are), this is not a $200 bracelet. I’m thinking it’s about $1000, judging by the description, and based on the prices for replacement stainless steel link bracelets from Rolex, Tudor, and Omega.
The three collections of Apple Watch — Sport, steel, and Edition — will not, I think, be represented by three basic prices. Instead, the three collections will comprise a continuum of price points, ranging from $349 to $10,000 (or $20,000, if my hunch is correct that there are gold Link Bracelets waiting to be revealed).
Here are my final guesses (38mm/42mm):
And purely based on my own speculation — the following configurations have not been announced, have not even been rumored, and have not been suggested to me by any sort of sources:
In my first draft of this piece, I had the regular steel Link Bracelet models at $1899/1999, and the space black ones at $2299/2499, and there’s a notion in my gut that I should have stuck with them. I’m out on a limb here, and it’s quite possible I’ll be serving up some home-cooked claim chowder Monday. Every single number above other than $349 is truly just a guess on my part. My predictions are way higher than almost everyone else’s:
When the prices of the steel and (especially) gold Apple Watches are announced, I expect the tech press to have the biggest collective shit-fit in the history of Apple-versus-the-standard-tech-industry shit-fits. The utilitarian mindset that asks “Why would anyone waste money on a gold watch?” isn’t going to be able to come to grips with what Apple is doing here. They’re going to say that Jony Ive and Tim Cook have lost their minds. They’re going to wear out their keyboards typing “This never would have happened if Steve Jobs were alive.” They’re going to predict utter and humiliating failure. In short, they’re going to mistake Apple for Vertu.
The only thing I would change about this is that I now think it’s the steel Apple Watch pricing that is going to cause the massive collective shit-fit. Most people have wrapped their heads around the fact that the gold Edition models are going to cost at least $5000, and so have already written off Apple Watch Edition as something for the wealthy luxury market.
But the steel Apple Watch, that’s something that most people still look at as for them. And so they expect the starting price to be around $500, and the various leather and metal band options to cost $100-300 more.
But if the starting price for the steel Apple Watch is $500, I don’t see why Apple Watch Sport exists at $350. $150 difference does not justify the difference. If they were that close in price, there’d only be one of them. Sport and steel only make sense as separate collections if the steel collection is significantly higher in price, even at the entry level with the rubber Sport band. People are looking at this as a $100-200 upsell, like going from 16 to 64 to 128 GB iPhones and iPads. Technically that’s possible, but it doesn’t make any sense to me strategically or in terms of operational efficiency. With storage tiers in iOS devices, the only difference is the capacity of the flash memory chip. That’s it. All the other components, and the machining and tooling required to produce them, are the same. With Sport and steel Apple Watches, everything you can see or touch is different. Different metal (aluminum vs. steel), different finishes (matte vs. highly-polished), different displays (glass vs. sapphire), different case backs (plastic vs. ceramic and sapphire). If the marketing argument doesn’t persuade you, the operations angle should. I just don’t see why Apple would bother with all this if the starting price for steel Apple Watch wasn’t at least around double that of Sport.
That’s why I think the pricing for the steel Apple Watch collection is what’s going to raise a ruckus, because there are a lot of people who want one and expect that they’ll only have to pay $500 or $600, regardless of their strap preference.
At the introduction event in September, Tim Cook explicitly billed Apple Watch as the next flagship product line in the company’s history: Apple II, Macintosh, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and now the watch. There will be no brushing it off as a mere “hobby” if it isn’t successful.
The thing is, for all the griping about the prices that I expect come Monday, at $349, Apple Watch has the lowest entry-level price for any first-generation flagship product from Apple. The first iPod cost $399. The iPhone was $599 (before the infamous $200 price cut a few months later, which still left the entry model at $399). iPad was $499.
The fact that so many people want the steel Apple Watch and non-Sport bands shows why they will cost more: desire. Apple sets prices not based on what people want to pay, but what people are willing to pay.
This is without question new territory for Apple. They’ve never sold products with the same computing internals at different pricing tiers based solely on the luxuriousness of the materials.
No matter what the pricing is, third-party Apple Watch bands seem like an inevitable thing. But will Apple stock them in its stores? Will there be a Made for Apple Watch program to certify them? I don’t think so.
If Apple’s prices are as high as I’m predicting, demand for third-party link bracelets and leather straps will be high. It’ll be interesting to see how it plays out. I never would have predicted the size and scope of today’s iPhone case market back in 2007.
If I’m even close to correct regarding steel Apple Watch pricing, and if I’m also correct that there’s going to be a vociferous backlash, Apple has only itself to blame. The September event and Apple’s marketing to date have created the impression that the differences between collections are largely about style, not price.
Using the name “Apple Watch” for the stainless steel collection — the collection with the widest variety of straps — clearly establishes it as the “regular” collection. In turn, that has left many with the impression that it will be the best-selling, the most common, the one most people walk out of the store with — and thus priced near the $349 baseline.
“Apple Watch starts at $349” as the one and only mention of price left too much room for bad assumptions, I think.
To play devil’s advocate, perhaps Apple did this deliberately. They showed all these different watch bands knowing that they would spark desire, and that people get their heart set on a certain combination based purely on how it looks — including combinations which they wouldn’t have allowed themselves to consider in the first place if they’d known the eventual price back in September. In other words, someone who’s had their heart set on a model with the Milanese Loop, under the assumption that it would cost, say, $600, might still go ahead and buy it for $1200 even though they wouldn’t have considered it in the first place if they’d known it would cost $1200 back in September.
I think that devil’s advocate take is over-thinking things. It’s just the only explanation I can think of other than that Apple kind of botched the pricing expectations for Apple Watch. Actually, there is one other explanation I can think of: Apple didn’t want its competition to know how much Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition were going to cost, and they decided the competitive value of keeping prices secret outweighed the value of setting accurate expectations for customers.
Apple has revealed nothing about internal storage capacity in Apple Watch. I could see this playing out two ways:
Apple never talks about storage capacity for Apple Watch. It becomes a “secret” tech spec, like the amount of RAM in iOS devices. We’ll figure it out once we get our hands on them, but it won’t be something Apple talks about.
If they do talk about it, each collection will get its own tier. Say, 8 GB for Sport, 32 GB for steel, 64 GB for Edition.
I don’t think Apple Watch will need much storage, but they’ve said you can store music and photos directly on the device. So it’s not like storage doesn’t matter at all. It’s just another upsell to push people to higher-priced models.
There’s been a lot of speculation about the modular nature of Apple Watch’s S1 “computer on a chip”. Why brag about that? Why encase the whole thing in resin? Why make this photograph? My wild guess back in September: perhaps Apple Watch, or at least the Edition models, would be upgradeable in future years. Take it in for service, pay $500, walk out with your “old” Apple Watch Edition upgraded with an S2.
I now think this theory is bunk. Not going to happen.
Take a first generation iPhone. Now imagine if you could upgrade it to today’s A8 SoC. It’d be better than it was before, that’s for sure. But it’d still have a low-resolution non-retina display. It’d still be stuck with EDGE cellular networking. It’d still have a crappy camera that couldn’t even shoot video. Etc. The “computer” inside Apple Watch isn’t centrally important. Everything is important. The health sensors, the display, the battery, the Taptic Engine, the digital crown, the networking capabilities, everything.
A few years from now we might have Apple Watches that support Wi-Fi or even cellular networking. They might go several days on a single charge. None of those improvements would come from an upgrade to an S2 or S3 chip.
I’d love to be wrong on this one, but I don’t think it makes any sense. And if I am wrong, the upgrade would have to include the entire innards of the watch — new display, new electronics, new battery, new sensors. Everything but the case and the bands. That still seems unlikely to me, but it’s at least plausible. And it could put Apple Watch Edition on par with existing luxury watches in terms of lifespan. But even in that case, the modular nature of the S1 doesn’t really have much to do with it.
Lastly, many readers have suggested a trade-in program, where you could bring in your old Apple Watch Edition and get a significant trade-in on a new one. No way. First, as stated earlier, the value of the raw gold in a gold watch is just a small fraction of the price. Second, trading in used goods is not part of a luxury shopping experience.
Holding the event at Yerba Buena instead of the smaller confines of their campus Town Hall makes me think Apple has a lot to show. There must be more to learn about Apple Watch’s software and experience — Tim Cook even said so back in September, explaining that they simply didn’t have enough time then to show more. I’ve heard that Apple has been hosting over 100 third-party developers and designers in Cupertino for the last month, to test and refine WatchKit apps on production Apple Watch hardware, so I expect a bunch of third-party Watch app demos too.
The new Mac version of Photos is in public beta, so I expect a full demo of that and the now-complete iCloud Photos cross-device experience. And if they’re going to talk about Mac software, maybe they’ll reveal the rumored 12-inch thinner-than-ever MacBook Air, too. My gut tells me the new MacBook Air could be ready, and it also tells me that the purported bigger iPad is not.
Update: If Apple is ready to unveil the upcoming redesign of its retail stores, we will see Angela Ahrendts’s first on-stage appearance since joining Apple last year. ★
Marco expressed a thought I’ve considered myself:
Apple’s letting the $10,000–20,000 guesses simmer in the press to set price expectations high, just as they stayed quiet when everyone thought the first iPad would cost $1000. Maybe it’s for the same reason: maybe the Edition won’t be completely unreasonably priced for a piece of electronic jewelry that will probably be completely obsolete in five years but happens to be encased in a thousand bucks worth of solid gold. Letting people believe it’ll cost so much will make the real price seem like a great deal when it’s announced.
That’s certainly possible. But what makes me think otherwise is that $1000 was the rumored starting price for the iPad. When Steve Jobs unveiled the “$499” slide, it was our collective expectation for the iPad’s entry-level price that was exceeded. (I remember being in the Yerba Buena theater at that moment — everyone, yours truly included, was genuinely surprised by that. It was palpable.) The “best” iPad — 64 GB with cellular networking — cost $829, which isn’t that much less than $1000. With Apple Watch we know the starting price: $349. What we don’t know is how much the higher-end models will cost. ↩
After the gala announcement event in September at which Apple introduced Apple Watch and whatever last year’s iPhone was, I ran into SlashGear editor-in-chief Vincent Nguyen in the private hands-on area Apple had set up for select members of the media. I’ve known Vincent for years from various Apple events, and I always enjoy his perspective. I was actually looking around for him this time, though, because I really wanted to hear his take on Apple Watch. Vincent is a watch guy — he knows the watch industry, and his taste is excellent.
We greeted each other, walked in, and started staring, close-up, at the lineup. When we got to the Edition models, Vincent said, with some excitement, “This is going to cost $20,000.”
I’d already started thinking that the Edition models would cost thousands, plural, but $20,000 struck me as a price from Bananas Town. Vincent’s reply was something to the effect of, “Try to find a good 18-karat gold watch for less than $20,000. You won’t.”
Here’s what I wrote back in September, in my initial thoughts regarding Apple Watch:
In short: hundreds for Sport, a thousand for stainless steel, thousands for gold.
Most people think I’m joking when I say the gold ones are going to start at $5,000. I couldn’t be more serious. I made a friendly bet last week with a few friends on the starting price for the Edition models, and I bet on $9,999.
The more I think about it, and the more I learn about the watch industry, the world of luxury goods, and the booming upper class of China, the better I feel about that bet. I don’t think I was wrong to place a friendly late night bar bet on a $9,999 starting price. I think I was wrong to guess just $4,999 in my ostensibly sober published analysis.
I can see which way the wind is blowing. For months I’ve been asking friends who might know — or know someone else who might know, or even know someone who knows someone who might know — whether my guess of $5,000 is too high for the Edition starting price. The answer has always been “No”. But the way I’ve been told “No” has given me the uneasy feeling that I’ve been asking the wrong question. I should have been asking if $5,000 is too low.
I now think Edition models will start around $10,000 — and, if my hunch is right about bands and bracelets, the upper range could go to $20,000. I was off by a factor of two, and my friend Vincent, I think, nailed it back on the day Apple Watch was introduced.
Louie Mantia helped clarify my thinking on this by publishing this seemingly sparsely populated table of Apple Watch collection/band combinations. Study that for a few minutes, and you should come to a few surprising — to me at least — conclusions.
One of the selling points Apple emphasized in September is that bands are easily interchanged on Apple Watch. You just press a button underneath and it’s released; slide a new one in and it securely clicks into place. And they showed a wide variety of bands: Sport, Classic Buckle, Leather Loop, Modern Buckle, Milanese Loop, and Link Bracelet. Six different styles, all of them — other than the Milanese Loop — in multiple colors.
I walked out of the event under the assumption that all of these bands would be available to purchase as accessories, like iPhone cases. So that one could, say, buy an Apple Watch Sport with a white sport band, and buy a Milanese Loop or one of the leather bands to make it dressier.
I am no longer certain that’s going to be the case. And if it is the case, the non-Sport bands are going to be expensive — in most cases, even more expensive than the Apple Watch Sport itself.
What seems clear to me now is that the various bands signify tiers within the three collections — particularly for the stainless steel Apple Watch models. Take a look at Apple’s page for the steel Watch collection, and scroll down to the bottom, where they present a scrolling carousel of “all 18 models in the collection”. From left to right:
Things to note:
The “Modern Buckle” is only available for 38mm models. The Leather Loop is only available for 42mm models. The Space Black watch is only available with a single band option: the Link Bracelet.
Sport Bands are surely the least expensive. Link Bracelets, I’m almost as sure, are the most expensive. I think Apple placed these models in order from least to most expensive, going from left to right. (Including the fact that 38mm models will cost slightly less than their 42mm siblings.)
Why are there both Classic Buckles and Modern Buckles? From their descriptions, it sounds like the Modern Buckle uses a better leather, and without question it has a more advanced clasp mechanism. I conclude: Modern is more expensive. They both exist because they’ll sit at different price points.
Note too, that on the regular Apple Watch collection page, the Classic Buckle description states, regarding color options: “Available in black.” This, despite the same band being offered in Midnight Blue for the Edition collection.
So I’m thinking the regular Apple Watch will come in at least five pricing tiers:
You’ll pay a premium for color straps and advanced clasp mechanisms, and you’ll pay even more for the Link Bracelet.
I think the spread between these tiers could be significant, ranging from, say, $700 for the entry model with the Sport Band to well over $1,000 for the Link Bracelet. I still think the average for the steel Apple Watch will be around $1,000, but depending on your strap choice, you’ll pay several hundred less or more.
But wait. I would not bet against Apple bringing back the black tax. Remember the plastic MacBooks from 2006? Apple charged $150 more for the black one than the white one, even though they had nearly identical specs.
Note that the silver Apple Watch Sport only has four band color choices: white, blue, green, and pink. The space gray Sport edition has only one band: black. I think Apple might charge more for both the space gray Sport model and the space black stainless steel model.
Further, I don’t think any of the stainless steel bands will be available for retail purchase. They’ll sell sport bands, which you’ll be able to use on any Apple Watch, but I don’t think any of the nicer bands will be available for retail purchase. Don’t hold your breath for a space black Link Bracelet to put on your $349 Sport model. The nicer bands aren’t accessories that Apple hopes you’ll tack onto your purchase; they’re signifiers of how much you paid for your stainless steel or gold Apple Watch.
Which brings me to the Edition collection’s curiously thin lineup of strap choices. There are only three for each watch size, and Apple doesn’t present them side-by-side in a carousel like they do with the stainless steel models:
That’s the order in which the six models appear on Apple’s page. It almost certainly does not correspond to price.
Things to note: None of these leather colors are available in the standard Apple Watch lineup. These are not regular Sport Bands — they have gold clasps. None of them have metal bands.
These are (I think) $10,000+ watches, but half of them come with rubber sport bands that are nearly indistinguishable from the bands on the $349 Sport collection.
Glaringly omitted is a gold Link Bracelet. I’d place a side bet Apple withheld it in September, and will unveil it as a surprise option at the event they’ll hold before releasing the watches. If you’re going to go gold, go gold. Some people buy a gold watch simply because they like it. Others buy a gold watch because they want everyone to know they wear a gold watch. The latter group will gladly pay $20,000 for a watch with gold band.
Perhaps I’m biased by my personal taste in watch bands, but at the hands-on event in September, the Link Bracelet was my favorite by far, followed by the Milanese Loop. It seems downright ludicrous to me to charge significantly more for the Edition models and not offer the best of the bands. Note too that among the Edition combinations Apple currently lists, there is but a single 42mm model with something other than a rubber Sport Band — the Midnight Blue Classic Buckle. Further, as stated above, I think the Classic Buckle is the low-end leather strap. I’m guessing Apple will offer Edition models with gold Link Bracelets for $20,000, and perhaps Milanese Loops for $15,000 and a Leather Loop for around $12,500.
Don’t try to guess the price of the Edition models based on the amount of gold they contain. I did it this week, but it’s the wrong way to look at this. It doesn’t matter if the gold in an Apple Watch Edition model is “only” worth $1,000 or $1,500 or whatever. The gold in a Rolex is only worth that, too — and their gold watches sell for $20,000 and more, for the exact same movements in their $6,000 stainless steel models. The value of a gold watch is only tangentially related to the number of ounces of gold it contains. And Edition isn’t just made of 18-karat gold — it’s made of the best 18-karat gold in the world. (I don’t know that for a fact — I don’t know anything about gold — I’m just saying what Apple is saying.)
Apple Watch Edition is not a tech product, so don’t try to price it like one.
Apple Watch Edition is a luxury wrist watch. Apple’s ambitions in this arena, I am convinced, are almost boundless. They’re not entering the market against Rolex, Omega, and the rest of the Swiss luxury watch establishment with disruptive prices. They’re entering the market against those companies going head-to-head on pricing, with disruptive (they think) features.
Again I point you to someone from the watch world, Grail Watch’s Stephen Foskett, who points out that gold watches typically cost $10-15,000 more than the same watch in stainless steel — and tens of thousands more if they come with a gold bracelet. Even if I’m wrong about Apple having gold Link Bracelets lying in wait as an April surprise, I don’t think a $10,000 starting price for Apple Watch Edition is even a step out of line for the watch industry.1
Will it work? Will people actually buy these? I have no idea. But I think Apple thinks it’s going to work. ★
At prices like these, an Apple Watch Edition is not an accessory for your iPhone — your iPhone is an accessory for your Apple Watch Edition. ↩