Gurman: Apple Considering Rugged Apple Watch Model for Sports

Mark Gurman, with another scoop:

Apple Inc. is considering launching an Apple Watch with a rugged casing aimed at athletes, hikers and others who use the device in more extreme environments, according to people familiar with the matter. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has internally discussed introducing such a Watch variation later in 2021 or 2022 at the earliest, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters. […]

If Apple goes ahead this time, the rugged version would be an additional model similar to how Apple offers a lower-cost option called the Apple Watch SE and special editions co-branded with Nike Inc. and Hermes International. Sometimes dubbed the “Explorer Edition” inside Apple, the product would have the same functionality as a standard Apple Watch but with extra impact-resistance and protection in the vein of Casio’s G-Shock watches.

Apple should definitely do this. It’s kind of surprising they haven’t done it already. This isn’t about something like sapphire vs. ionized glass for the displays. Sapphire (used in the stainless steel and Edition models) is far more scratch resistant than the glass displays used on the aluminum models, but it’s not really more impact resistant.

G-Shocks are incredibly popular watches, and they are meant to take a genuine beating. Remember the original commercial from 1983? That’s the sort of thing this “Explorer” model would be, and I guarantee it would sell like hotcakes. You’ll see them everywhere if Apple ships this. Many people will buy them with no intention to do anything particularly active while wearing it — they’ll just buy the one that looks (and is) rugged because if they’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on a watch they want to be protected. Think about the people you know who don’t just put their phones in cases, but put them in really thick protective cases. This would be the Apple Watch for them.

I would suggest bringing back the “Sport” name — that’s what Apple called the base-model watches in the first generation. In Apple’s original 2015 naming scheme, they called the aluminum base models “Apple Watch Sport”, the more expensive stainless steel models were just plain “Apple Watch”, and the solid gold ones were “Apple Watch High as a Kite”. There was nothing more sporty about those original Sports models though,* yet the branding led some people to wrongly believe that “ionized glass” was stronger or more suited to activity than sapphire. Bring back the “Apple Watch Sport” brand, I say, and this time make it sporty as hell.

* The aluminum models are noticeably lighter weight than the steel models, which arguably makes them better suited to athletic activity.

Saturday, 27 March 2021