‘Google, Our Patron Saint of the Closed Web’ 

Drew Crawford, on Google’s attempt to register 100 TLDs for its own use:

Is my conclusion that Apple should get a free pass for hamstringing their web evangelists? No. Get your Safari team a blog, Apple. Let them give a talk at a fucking conference.

My point is that if you think Google is some kind of Patron Saint of the Open Web, shit son. Tim Cook on his best day could not conceive of a dastardly plan like this. This is a methodical, coordinated, long-running and well-planned attack on the open web that comes from the highest levels of Google leadership. And we’re giving Apple a free pass? Pshaw.

I don’t think Google’s desire for these private TLDs is that big a deal. I blame ICANN more than Google. But like Crawford, it’s a never ending curiosity to me why so many people think Google is a champion of “openness”.

Oracle Extends Its Adware Bundling to Include Java for Macs 

Ed Bott:

For years, Oracle has tormented Windows users by bundling adware with its Java installer for Windows PCs. Now Oracle has begun including the same adware as part of a default installation of Java for the Mac, using the same deceptive techniques.

Shitbags.

Here’s What I Don’t Get About the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge 

So Samsung introduce two new flagship phones: the Galaxy S6 and the S6 Edge. The Edge has a display with pronounced curves along the sides. The regular S6 is flat. Why do both of these phones exist? They’re not different sizes. Either the curved edge is a good idea or it’s not. Design is making decisions.

Marc Newson’s Watch Band Designs for Ikepod 

Many similarities between his previous designs and the new ones for Apple Watch. The Sport band, in particular, looks nearly identical to the one he designed at Ikepod. (This is an old story from September 10, but I missed it then amid the flurry of news.)

Apple Watch Diagnostic Port 

Nice scoop by Matthew Panzarino:

Would you shell out money for a ‘smart’ accessory band for an Apple Watch that added additional capabilities? More battery life, perhaps?

The reason I ask is that the Apple Watch has a port that the company has yet to show off. It’s being used for diagnostics and direct access to the Watch operating system, but it’s feasible that could be used to connect accessories in the future.

The port has a 6-dot brass contact array inside the groove for the ‘bottom’ strap connector slot. Several sources have confirmed its existence and placement to me.

He also answers a question I’ve been wondering about since September: How did Apple get around putting “Assembled in China” on the bottom of the case?

If you’re curious, the other slot has “Assembled in China — Designed by Apple in California” engraved inside.

Update: Jordan Kahn at 9to5Mac:

9to5Mac has learned from sources that the port, which is actually a Lightning port being used for testing, will not be included on the product shipping to customers.

The Talk Show: ‘Retina Quality’ 

New episode of my podcast, The Talk Show, with special guest Paul Kafasis. Topics include the new Pebble Time watch, the imminent arrival of Apple Watch, Paul’s clever new doorbell (and unfortunate refrigerator situation), a little bit of baseball, and why I can’t attend next week’s Apple event in San Francisco.

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Why Apple Doesn’t Report Jony Ive’s Compensation 

Eric Jackson, examining a question I raised on The Talk Show a few weeks ago:

Normally, all companies have to report the pay for the CEO, CFO, and three next most important “Named Officers.” Most would assume Ive would be among the next 3. Yet, Apple reports them as Ahrendts, Cue, and Williams. Why? I agree with Gruber that it’s likely because they just don’t want to report Ive if it’s high for fear of it becoming an issue when they don’t think a public discussion is warranted.

Update: Here are the relevant SEC rules (emphasis mine):

In the annual proxy statement, a company must disclose information concerning the amount and type of compensation paid to its chief executive officer, chief financial officer and the three other most highly compensated executive officers. A company also must disclose the criteria used in reaching executive compensation decisions and the relationship between the company’s executive compensation practices and corporate performance.

So it’s not the three “most important”, but the three “most highly compensated”. Ahrendts’s large signing bonus last year guaranteed her placement on this list.

Now my question is, is Jony Ive an “officer of the company”? What is the legal difference between “senior executive” and “executive officer”? DF reader @GadgetGav speculates that Ive is not an “executive officer”, and thus not subject to SEC compensation disclosure rules.

Notch, Post-Minecraft 

Interesting profile by Forbes, including some insight on the negotiations with Microsoft:

It was June 16, 2014, and Persson bunkered in his penthouse apartment with a cold. Minecraft users had been up in arms that week about the company’s decision to start enforcing its End User License Agreement, which barred players from charging others for certain game-play features, such as stronger swords. As hundreds of tweets an hour flowed in, Persson, feverish from his cold, tapped out a 129-character outburst that would change his life forever.

“Anyone want to buy my share of Mojang so I can move on with my life?” he asked. “Getting hate for trying to do the right thing is not my gig.”

Mojang CEO Carl Manneh was sitting at home with his family when he first saw the tweet. Within 30 seconds of his reading it, his phone rang. A Microsoft executive who coordinated with Mojang wanted to know if Persson was serious. “I’m not sure–let me talk to him,” said Manneh.

OneShot, a One Week Design Case Study 

Daniel Zarick goes behind-the-scenes on the making of OneShot, a new iOS app for sharing screenshots of article excerpts.

When I first heard about OneShot a few weeks ago, I hardly paid any attention to it. The idea of sharing screenshots — static images — of article excerpts seemed goofy to me. Twitter’s 140-character limit is a big motivator here, so I see the appeal, but it just sounded like a bad premise.

But Zarick’s design write-up (and Neven Mrgan’s aforelinked good words) made me want to try it, and I’m glad I did. The app is full of clever details, including smart use of OCR to make the text in screenshots un-static. I probably won’t use it much, because, well, I have a place where I post excerpts from interesting articles. But I can see why people use it.

Try 

Neven Mrgan on OneShot:

I’d like to see more software try to do a good job of a fuzzy task, let you help it with the last mile, and give you a fallback option. That kind of magic can be more delightful than behind-the-scenes, guess-and-stick-with-it magic we’re often promised.

I think this is a good rule of thumb.

Matt Haughey Retiring From MetaFilter 

Matt Haughey:

After 16 years of doing a bit of everything under the sun here, I’m stepping away from the day to day of running MetaFilter and moving into the background. Never fear, I’m leaving it in the best of hands and things are looking good for the future.

Godspeed, Matt. And thank you.

Unreal 4 for Animation 

Interesting not because of the film itself but the tool used to create it: Unreal Engine 4, with everything rendered at 30 FPS in real time. Via Sean Heber, who aptly notes:

It wasn’t that long ago that you’d only see this kind of quality in animated films. Now it’s realtime.

Wes Anderson’s The Uncanny X-Men 

Fun parody by Patrick Willems. (Via Josh Centers.)

How the iPhone Helped Federico Viticci Achieve a Healthier Lifestyle 

Inspiring story from Federico Viticci:

Two years after my last treatments, sometimes I still turn to my girlfriend and I tell her that it’s amazing we’re able to be together and walk and laugh and go shopping and drive and not be stuck in a hospital room that smells like aseptic plastic bags and wet floors. And I also feel like I’m not communicating this well or concisely enough — the instinct of walking and going places is so intrinsic in mankind, the joy of getting it back sounds grandiose to most people. I get it. But it still feels incredible and I want to write it.

Small steps, literally. Today I’m free and I can count steps on my iPhone. Big deal — cue sarcastic tweet. Yes. It is a big deal to me. Because every day that I open the Health app and I see a plunge in that chart or I launch Pedometer++ and I see a red bar, it’s a day that I wonder whether I’m wasting my time trying apps and workflows and being obsessed with the urgency of news instead of going out and holding my girlfriend’s hand or walking with my dad, whom I don’t call enough.

Headline of the Day 

Rurik Bradbury, writing for Trustev:

A hot and heavy headline at the Wall Street Journal, “Fraud Comes to Apple Pay,” gives the impression of some kind of security weakness in Apple’s new payment system, but it’s not justified.

What has happened is that Apple Pay itself is basically fraud-proof, so fraudsters have turned their attention to the next weakest link: credit cards before they’re added to an Apple Pay wallet.

This is classic fraud via social engineering. Criminals use stolen credit card details (which can easily and cheaply be bought on sites like Rescator.cm) and then trick banks into allowing them to be loaded onto an iPhone. Once loaded onto a phone, they can make purchases until the card is canceled.

Anything to get “Apple” into a headline at the WSJ.

Recode: ‘Sony’s $840 Smart Glasses Are Too Dorky to Be Believed’ 

Eric Johnson:

Hard as it might be to swallow, this is a real promotional video for a real product made by a real company with a $30 billion market cap. It’s the developer edition of Sony’s smart glasses, which are called SmartEyeglass (great name!) and will be available to the eager buying public in the U.S., U.K., Germany and Japan on March 10.

They cost $840.

I know they’re a “developer edition”, but jiminy are these things ugly. They make Google Glass look cool.

iOS 8 vs. iOS 3: Allowing Touch Input During Animations 

William Van Hecke made an interesting video showing a difference in iOS 7 and 8 from all prior versions of iOS — touch gestures are now ignored during system animations. For example, when you unlock your iPhone and the home screen animates into place. It used to be that you could start swiping between home screens during the animation. Now, you can’t.

I’d more or less gotten used to this, but now that he’s called my attention to it, it does seem rather annoying, and an inexplicable regression. A seven-year-old original iPhone shouldn’t feel more responsive than a brand new iPhone 6.

Update: I’m not sure that Van Hecke’s description of how older versions of iOS worked is quite right. I think it’s more like the old animations ended abruptly, whereas starting in iOS 7 they ease out slowly. The difference isn’t between being interruptible or not, but rather between ending quickly and ending slowly. The result, though, is what matters, and the result is that it feels slower.

PCWorld: ‘Microsoft, Intel Join Forces on Low-Cost Windows 10 Phones’ 

Imagine going back in time 10 years and trying to convince someone that this headline from 2015 would produce nothing but yawns and eye-rolling.

Apple Found Its Newest Billboards on the Internet 

Brendan Klinkenberg, writing for Buzzfeed:

Last December, when the Bay Area had one of its rare rainy days, Cielo de la Paz took her kids out to play. She’s an avid photographer, “willing to wake up at five in the morning and hike 10 miles to get that shot of the sunrise,” and when she saw the reflection of her red umbrella on the wet concrete, she knew she had a good one.

“It took a few shots,” she said, “this was the last one I took, I was finally happy with how the wind arranged the leaves for me.”

She edited the shot with Filterstorm Neue, uploaded the picture to Flickr (she was taking part in the photo365 challenge), where Apple found it.

Then, they put it on a billboard.

On Raising the Price for Vesper 

Jason Snell asked me a few questions about our decision to raise the price of Vesper:

Instead, we want to embrace the users who are looking for the best app, and who are willing to pay a fair price for it if they think Vesper might be it. Going low didn’t work; we lose nothing by trying to go high.

I would like to see other developers follow.

What I see is that among long-time Mac indie developers, almost all of them are still making the majority — often the vast majority, sometimes the entirety — of their revenue from Mac apps. That’s good business — the Mac market is willing to pay reasonable prices for apps. But it’s a lost opportunity for iOS as a platform. I think we’re lacking for good, deep quality apps on iOS.

Jony Ive’s Newton 

Another funny bit regarding Mark Wilson’s calling the Apple Watch “Jonathan Ive’s Newton” — the actual Newton 110 was Jony Ive’s Newton.

‘Becoming Steve Jobs’ — New Book by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli 

Becoming Steve Jobs is a remarkable new book by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli. Crown Publishing Group was gracious enough to send me an advance copy a few weeks ago, and I am delighted to be the first to announce it.

It is, in short, the book about Steve Jobs that the world deserves. You might wonder how such a book could be written without Jobs’s participation, but effectively, he did participate. Schlender, in his work as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and Fortune, interviewed Jobs extensively numerous times spanning 25 years. Remember the 1991 joint interview with Jobs and Bill Gates? That was Schlender. As the book makes clear, Jobs and Schlender had a very personal relationship.

The book is smart, accurate, informative, insightful, and at times, utterly heartbreaking. Schlender and Tetzeli paint a vivid picture of Jobs the man, and also clearly understand the industry in which he worked. They also got an astonishing amount of cooperation from the people who knew Jobs best: colleagues past and present from Apple and Pixar — particularly Tim Cook — and his widow, Laurene Powell Jobs.

The book is an accurate, engaging retelling of the known history of Jobs’s life and career, but also contains a significant amount of new reporting. There are stories in this book that are going to be sensational. (I’ve promised to keep them to myself for now.) I’ll have much more to say about the book when it comes out, but for now, take my word for it and pre-order your copy now. It even has a great cover. Becoming Steve Jobs is going to be an essential reference for decades to come.

Mark Wilson: ‘You Guys Realize the Apple Watch Is Going to Flop, Right?’ 

Kudos to Fast Company’s Mark Wilson for having the stones to predict, boldly, that “Apple Watch is going to flop”, calling it “Jonathan Ive’s Newton”. Pretty sure he has a bad read on the battery life though:

There’s only so much you can do with sapphire glass [sic] and power-efficient microprocessors. Current reports say the Apple Watch could burn out in times as short as 2.5 hours before needing a recharge. Best-case scenarios (you know, when you use it a lot less), might stretch its life to 19 hours. But a loyal user of the Apple Watch would be forced to take it off and recharge it four times during a workday. That’s absurd.

It would be absurd, which is why it’s not true. Wilson links to a CNBC report for that “2.5 hours” figure, but CNBC’s source is this original report by Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac. Gurman reported:

Apple initially wanted the Apple Watch battery to provide roughly one full day of usage, mixing a comparatively small amount of active use with a larger amount of passive use. As of 2014, Apple wanted the Watch to provide roughly 2.5 to 4 hours of active application use versus 19 hours of combined active/passive use, 3 days of pure standby time, or 4 days if left in a sleeping mode.

Battery life may well be a serious problem for Apple Watch. It’s no surprise that it was and will remain one of the hardest engineering problems on the project. But no one is saying you’re going to have to recharge it every three hours. That’s so dumb it makes one think Wilson is being willfully obtuse so as to bask in the contrarian limelight for a few days.

Google Backs Away From Requiring Android Lollipop Devices to Be Encrypted by Default 

Andrew Cunningham, writing for Ars Technica:

Last year, Google made headlines when it revealed that its next version of Android would require full-disk encryption on all new phones. Older versions of Android had supported optional disk encryption, but Android 5.0 Lollipop would make it a standard feature.

But we’re starting to see new Lollipop phones from Google’s partners, and they aren’t encrypted by default, contradicting Google’s previous statements. At some point between the original announcement in September of 2014 and the publication of the Android 5.0 hardware requirements in January of 2015, Google apparently decided to relax the requirement, pushing it off to some future version of Android.

Ars’s guess as to why is performance, which seems likely. It just shows how hard it is for Google to move the state of the art forward with Android — everything takes a year, or longer, before hitting the market.

Gallery of iPhone 6 Photography 

So many great photographs in this new collection from Apple. (Note, though, that nearly all of them were taken outdoors. Low-light indoor photography is the next frontier for iPhone cameras.)

Update: Apple is going to use these photos in an upcoming ad campaign. Great idea, and must be a real thrill for the photographers. Also interesting to note just how many of them were edited using VSCO Cam.

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 ‘Looks Like the Love Child of an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 6’ 

Dan Seifert, reporting for The Verge from MWC in Barcelona:

Hallmarks of Samsung’s phones, such as removable batteries, microSD card slots, and waterproofing are nowhere to be found on the S6 or S6 Edge.

Welcome to 2007.

That will likely upset some die-hard users and Samsung loyalists that relied on those features, but it’s clear that Samsung prioritized the phone’s design and its look and feel over things that appeal to a smaller segment of its customer base. Samsung also trimmed back the software features, claiming that there are 40 percent fewer features in the Galaxy S6 than the S5.

A sign of just how bad Samsung is at software: they’re now bragging about removing a huge number of “features”.

It’s easy to see where Samsung took its inspiration for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge: the design is strikingly similar to the iPhone 6 in many places, and the features that Samsung did focus its efforts on are all things the iPhone has had for years. Look at the S6 from certain angles and you’d immediately think it’s an iPhone. Put your thumb on the home key and the phone unlocks almost instantly, just like an iPhone. Even the camera mount protrudes out from the rear of the phone, preventing the S6 from lying flat on a table, just like an iPhone 6. (The flat S6 looks like the lovechild of an iPhone 4 and an iPhone 6, while the S6 Edge is a little more distinctive.) Samsung has be known to copy Apple’s design before, which led to record sales and record-breaking lawsuits. It’s hard to say if the Galaxy S6 will bring about any lawsuits, but the similarities between it and the iPhone 6 are undeniable.

Shameless.

Apple Employees Speak to Brian X. Chen Off-the-Record Regarding Apple Watch 

Brian X. Chen scored a few Apple Watch scoops:

Inside Apple, members of the team that worked on the watch product, code-named Gizmo, say it was a difficult engineering challenge. Three employees briefed on the project agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity. […]

Apple has said the watch battery is estimated to last a full day, requiring a user to charge it at night, similar to a smartphone. The company also developed a yet-to-be-announced feature called Power Reserve, a mode that will run the watch on low energy but display only the time, according to one employee.

Apple will release the watch a bit later than it had hoped because of technology challenges. It probably didn’t help that several important employees jumped ship. Nest Labs, the smart appliance maker that was acquired by Google last year, poached a few engineers who were the very best on the watch team, according to two people. Among them was Bryan James, Apple’s former director of iPod software, who became a vice president for engineering at Nest in early 2014, these people said.

The Ultra-Premium Mac Bundle 

My thanks to StackSocial for sponsoring this week’s DF RSS feed to promote their Ultra-Premium Mac Bundle, a terrific collection of apps including: ScreenFlow 5 ($99, Apple Design Winner), Things 2 ($49, Mac App Store Hall of Fame), Data Rescue 4 ($99, Macworld Editor’s Choice), ExpanDrive 4 ($49), Civilization: Beyond Earth ($49), and more. For a limited time, you get all of these apps for just $44.99. Any one of them would be a value for this price — bundled together, you’ll save over $400.

Even better: Daring Fireball readers can save an extra $5 with coupon code “ULTRA-DF5”.

Swatch Introduces Touch Zero One Smartwatch 

David Bredan, writing for A Blog to Watch:

Today, as news both expected and unexpected, Swatch has introduced what will be its first widely available smartwatch: the Swatch Touch Zero One. What we all expected to see sooner or later — preferably sooner — was a smart / notification / fitness watch to be offered by one of the Swiss watch industry giants. The unexpected part, is that there’s a direct link to, there’s no other way to put it, beach volleyball.

That’s quite a focused niche.

Google Unveils Proposal for New Mountain View Campus 

Ambitious, to be sure, and very Google-y. From the Google blog:

The idea is simple. Instead of constructing immoveable concrete buildings, we’ll create lightweight block-like structures which can be moved around easily as we invest in new product areas. (Our self-driving car team, for example, has very different needs when it comes to office space from our Search engineers.) Large translucent canopies will cover each site, controlling the climate inside yet letting in light and air. With trees, landscaping, cafes, and bike paths weaving through these structures, we aim to blur the distinction between our buildings and nature.

Vesper: Now With Native Support for iPad and Landscape 

Highlights of today’s update to Vesper:

  • Native iPad support.
  • Landscape support on all iOS devices.
  • iOS 8 sharing sheet support.
  • A new price that reflects the actual value of Vesper.

Yours truly, writing at the Vesper blog:

Now that Vesper supports all iOS device layouts, we’re raising the regular price for the app to $9.99. With fast, reliable, unlimited sync, we think that’s a great value. But for a limited time, we’re making this version available for just $7.99. And it’s a free update for everyone who’s already purchased any previous version of Vesper, all the way back to 1.0.

Stay tuned for more.

Put another way, we’re going to charge something sane or die trying. We tried following the iOS App Store trend by pricing Vesper at just $2.99 for months. It didn’t work. Prices like that are not sane, and not sustainable, at least for well-crafted productivity apps. So Q Branch is drawing a line in the sand, and we hope other iOS developers will follow.

On Heroes: Annie Jean Easley 

Great piece by Ashley Nelson-Hornstein on Annie Easley, an amazing computer science pioneer I’d never heard of before:

Each systemic microaggression Easley faced, she met with poise and tenacity. Her motto was “if I can’t work with you, I will work around you.” When her supervisor refused to find out if NASA would help pay for her Mathematics degree — a luxury known to be afforded to other employees — Easley paid her own way. When management at NASA refused to give her paid leave like another co-worker to finish the remaining four courses of her degree, Easley took unpaid leave. When Easley was cut out of a photo taken of the six people who worked on a project, she didn’t let that discouragement affect her life.

The word that comes to mind after reading this: perseverance.

Tim Cook on Apple Watch and Retail Stores 

The Telegraph’s Allister Heath spent some time with Tim Cook in London. Their headline emphasizes Cook’s revelation that Apple Watch will eventually be able to replace your car keys, but I thought the best part of the story was Cook’s impromptu visit to Apple’s Covent Garden retail store.

(Spitball idea: If Apple uses their March 9 event to reveal changes to their retail stores to accommodate Apple Watch, it could mark Angela Ahrendts’s first on-stage appearance at an Apple event.)

TypeSnippets 

Clever new iOS 8 keyboard from Nice Mohawk. You get a “keyboard” listing the snippets of text you type most frequently (e.g. your email address, frequently pasted URLs, etc.). Free to try with up to three snippets, upgrade to unlimited snippets for just $2.99. I’ve been beta testing TypeSnippets for a few weeks, and it works like a charm.

Brace Yourselves 

Citigroup analyst Jim Suva on Apple Watch:

We expect Apple to give specifics on the launch time, price, and geographic locations, which we estimate as: Launch date: April 16th; Price points: $350, $550 and $950; with a launch limited to the U.S., followed by Europe and Asia in the subsequent months.

That pricing makes no sense. People who believe this are going to shit their pants when Edition pricing is announced.

Leonard Nimoy Dies at 83 

What a remarkable career. His final tweet from a few days ago is poignant.

The Best Tesla Model S Easter Egg 

So great, I don’t want to spoil it.

A-Rod Issues Hand-Written Letter of Apology to Fans 

Alex Rodriguez returns to spring training:

I served the longest suspension in the history of the league for PED use. The Commissioner has said the matter is over. The Players Association has said the same. The Yankees have said the next step is to play baseball.

I’m ready to put this chapter behind me and play some ball.

25 Years of Photoshop 

Nice celebratory site from Adobe. Really enjoyed this interview with Photoshop co-creator Thomas Knoll. It’s hard to overstate just how far ahead of its time Photoshop was when it appeared.

‘Must Fix for Next Release’ 

Good suggestion from Craig Hockenberry:

I think there’s an easy way to fix these minor transgressions that would benefit both parties: add a new kind of approval with strings attached. A “Must Fix for Next Release” state where the app can go into “Ready for Sale” but the issue remains in the Resolution Center. At that point, both the app reviewers and developer know that an issue has to be dealt with before it’s approved the next time.

It would be like getting pulled over for a broken taillight on your car. You don’t need to visit your mechanic immediately to get the problem fixed. But you’ll certainly have to get things in order the next time you register the vehicle.


On the Pricing of Apple Watch

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.

It’s All About the Bands

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:

  • 38mm with White Sport Band
  • 42mm with White Sport Band
  • 38mm with Black Sport Band
  • 42mm with Black Sport Band
  • 38mm with Black Classic Buckle
  • 42mm with Black Classic Buckle
  • 38mm with Milanese Loop
  • 42mm with Milanese Loop
  • 38mm with Soft Pink Modern Buckle
  • 38mm with Brown Modern Buckle
  • 38mm with Midnight Blue Modern Buckle
  • 42mm with Stone Leather Loop
  • 42mm with Bright Blue Leather Loop
  • 42mm with Light Brown Leather Loop
  • 38mm with Link Bracelet
  • 42mm with Link Bracelet
  • 38mm Space Black Stainless Steel with Link Bracelet
  • 42mm Space Black Stainless Steel with Link Bracelet

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:

  1. Entry: Sport Band, black or white.
  2. Regular leather: Classic Buckle, you’ll get it in black and you’ll like it.
  3. Milanese Loop.
  4. Deluxe leather: Modern Buckle for 38mm models, Leather Loop for 42mm models. Each with a choice of three colors.
  5. Link Bracelet.

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.

Limited Edition

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:

  • 38mm Yellow Gold with Bright Red Modern Buckle
  • 38mm Rose Gold with White Sport Band
  • 42mm Rose Gold with White Sport Band
  • 38mm Rose Gold with Rose Gray Modern Buckle
  • 42mm Yellow Gold with Black Sport Band
  • 42mm Yellow Gold with Midnight Blue Classic Buckle

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.

Look at the Watch Industry

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. 


  1. 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. 


The Artful Dodge

From a 20 June 2014 story by WSJ reporter Daisuke Wakabayashi:

Apple is planning multiple versions of a smartwatch — dubbed the iWatch in the media — later this year, according to people familiar with the matter.

So far so good.

The devices will include more than 10 sensors to track and monitor health and fitness data, these people said. Taiwanese manufacturer Quanta Computer Inc. is expected to start producing the devices in two to three months, they said.

Not so good. Production did not start in September, not even close. And Apple’s website lists only two sensors for health and fitness tracking: the accelerometer and a heart rate sensor.

Yesterday, Wakabayashi explained the discrepancies:

When Apple Inc. started developing its smartwatch, executives envisioned a state-of-the-art health-monitoring device that could measure blood pressure, heart activity and stress levels, among other things, according to people familiar with the matter.

But none of those technologies made it into the much-anticipated Apple Watch, due in April. Some didn’t work reliably. Others proved too complex. And still others could have prompted unwanted regulatory oversight, these people said.

That left Apple executives struggling to define the purpose of the smartwatch and wrestling with why a consumer would need or want such a device. Their answer, for now, is a little bit of everything: displaying a fashion accessory; glancing at information nuggets more easily than reaching for a phone; buying with Apple Pay; communicating in new ways through remote taps, swapped heartbeats or drawings; and tracking daily activity.

Apple declined to comment.

If we’re to take Wakabayashi’s reporting, and his sources “familiar with the matter”, at face value, here’s what we’d need to believe:

  • As of 20 June 2014, Apple planned on shipping Apple Watch by the end of the year — which means October, in order to hit the holiday season. I.e., that in June, Apple thought they were four months away from shipping.

  • In June, Apple thought the watch would contain “more than 10 sensors to track and monitor health and fitness data”, but by September they’d abandoned most of them and still didn’t expect to ship until “early 2015”. In June they expected to ship a watch with more than 10 sensors by October, but by September they’d scrapped all those sensors other than the accelerometer and heart rate monitor and moved the shipping deadline back by six months.

  • In September, when Apple thought it was seven months or less away from shipping1, they deemed it strategic to pre-announce the Apple Watch. But in June, when, according to Wakabayashi’s “people familiar with the matter”, they thought they were only four or five months away from shipping, they did not pre-announce the watch at WWDC.

Maybe that’s exactly what happened. I don’t know. But it doesn’t sound anything like how product development within Apple works from my knowledge. I do know that up until some point, Apple expected to release the watch in 2014. I find it hard to believe they still believed that in June. I find it even harder to believe that they still planned on things like blood pressure monitoring and stress level detection as late as June while still thinking they could ship in 2014.

To be fair, Wakabayashi’s June 2014 story doesn’t say “blood pressure monitoring” or “stress level detector”, but it does say “more than 10 sensors to track and monitor health and fitness data”, and that turned out not to be true.

I also do not doubt for a moment that Apple looked hard at all sorts of sensors like those during the three-year development of Apple Watch. That’s how they develop products: come up with a slew of ideas, try the ideas that seem best, iterate and refine and change (narrowing focus) until they get to something that feels right. The iPhone, for example, started as a tablet project.

The way it reads to me is that Wakabayashi’s sources for the June 2014 story were not “familiar with the matter”, but rather were familiar with, at best, already-outdated plans to ship a more fitness/health-focused Apple Watch in 2014. And his report this week reads more like an attempt to make it look like it’s the Apple Watch that is actually coming in April that is wrong, not his reporting from last year.

The artful dodge: the rumor was actually right; it’s the shipping product that contradicts the rumor that is wrong. 


  1. Tim Cook, during January 27’s quarterly analyst conference call: “And just to clarify, what we had been saying was early 2015, and we sort of look at the year and think of ‘early’ is the first four months, ‘mid’ is the next four months, and ‘late’ is the final four months. To us, it’s sort of within the range, so it’s basically when we thought.” 


Thinking About the Split in Apple Watch Sales by Model

Lorraine Luk and Daisuke Wakabayashi, reporting today for the WSJ, “Apple Orders More Than 5 Million Watches for Initial Run”:

Apple has asked its suppliers in Asia to make a combined five to six million units of its three Apple Watch models during the first quarter ahead of the product’s release in April, according to people familiar with the matter.

I would wager — heavily — that these numbers come from supply chain sources, not Apple executives. I can’t see why anyone at Apple would see a strategic advantage to leaking these numbers, especially the split between Sport, regular, and Edition models:

Half of the first-quarter production order is earmarked for the entry-level Apple Watch Sport model, while the mid-tier Apple Watch is expected to account for one-third of output, one of these people said.

Orders for Apple Watch Edition — the high-end model featuring 18-karat gold casing — are relatively small in the first quarter but Apple plans to start producing more than one million units per month in the second quarter, the person said. Analysts expect demand for the high-end watches to be strong in China where Apple’s sales are booming.

Even in the initial quarter, 17 percent of “5 to 6 million” is 850,000 to 1,000,000 units. That’s a lot for a model that is going to be expensive. More interesting to me is that, according to this WSJ report, Apple is indeed going to assemble the Edition models in China. I have wondered, idly, whether Apple might assemble the Edition models in the U.S., like they do with Mac Pros, to further their prestige. At a million or more units per quarter, I can see why they might have to do it in China just to achieve the scale, but I believe it is unprecedented in the watch industry for a luxury model to be assembled in China.

Apple Watch Sport will start at $349. Apple hasn’t announced pricing for the other models, but Apple Watch Edition is expected to be among the most expensive products the company has ever sold, likely surpassing the $4,000 Mac Pro computer.

When I was a freshman at Drexel in 1991, there was a kid in my dorm with a $12,000 Mac IIfx. (He was an asshole who cheated at Spectre.) So the record — particularly inflation-adjusted — is pretty high.

Ancient Mac history aside, consider the numbers. If Apple actually sells 1 million Edition units per quarter, and they sell for an ASP of $5,000, that’s $5 billion in revenue per quarter — just for the gold Edition models. If the ASP is closer to $10,000, which I still think is possible, double that.

3 million Sport units at $350 comes to “only” $1 billion or so. 2 million stainless steel regular units with a $1,000 ASP would be an additional $2 billion.

So as a business — if the WSJ’s sources are correct,1 and if Apple is correctly predicting demand[2] — Apple Watch revenue will be dominated by the gold Edition units, accounting for double or more of the revenue from all the other models combined. The Edition models would thus do to the Apple Watch lineup as a whole what the iPhone, iPad, and Macintosh do to the entire phone, tablet, and PC industries, respectively: achieve a decided majority of the profits with a decided minority of the unit sales. 


  1. That’s a very big “if” for Luk and Wakabayashi, as I’ll write tomorrow. 

  2. For some quick perspective on that, Wikipedia pegs Rolex’s sales at 2,000 watches per day,  


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