Apple’s (AAPL) highly anticipated iPhone 6 debut has come and gone. On Tuesday, September 9th, CEO Tim Cook, and other top executives, took the stage in Cupertino to unveil the next generation iPhone (the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus) and new iOS 8 platform. Upon conclusion of this expected announcement, Cook reemerged on stage and nonchalantly uttered Steve Jobs' three iconic words: "One. More. Thing." As millions of Apple fan boys looked on in anticipation, Cook introduced Apple’s first new product category since the iPad, after an unbelievably long four years: the Apple Watch (surprisingly, Apple refrained from naming the device "iWatch").
Described as a “comprehensive health and fitness device," the Apple Watch has a plate attached to the back of the device comprised of four unique sensors. These sensors allow users access to unprecedented health tracking capabilities not seen in similar wearable devices. Throughout the day, users can monitor their heartbeat, walking/running distances, ascension, and calorie balance; they can also record daily measurements and earn rewards, so as to document exercise progress, health patterns, and help identify unique fitness deviations.
Although Cook highlighted the Apple Watch's health tracking tools, it became increasingly clear that the wearable computer is much more than just an exercise device. From an engineering standpoint, in terms of software compatibility, the Apple Watch will only pair with iPhones (limited to the 5 and 6 models). However, this is integral, as many features are reliant upon a tethered iPhone connection. While connected to an iPhone, the Apple Watch is controlled via a small knob (otherwise known as the "crown"). It is located on the side of the device, and serves as a navigational tool and home button. By holding it down, users can easily access Siri, allowing them a full range of useful voice commands. The crown can also be used to scroll through lists, emails, and other integrated apps (most of which require precise control).
Among other things, the Apple Watch displays real-time directions via the Maps app, can remotely control an Apple TV, and serves as a pay platform using Apple’s new payment system (also revealed during the keynote speech). Furthermore, the watch vibrates upon receiving notifications; the internal Taptic engine serves as a communication tool, allowing users to gain the attention of others by tapping the watch face, which is then relayed as a vibration to the designated contact. Lastly, the Apple Watch interprets text messages, and formulates quick response choices (since a keyboard is nonsensical).
While Apple no doubt released an impressive device, the fact remains it is a late entrant to the wearable technology market. Samsung, LG, and Motorola (MSI) have all released smart watches, the most popular competitor being Motorola’s Moto 360.
The Moto 360 will most likely prove to be the best selling Android Wear device. It boasts a gorgeous, round bezel, much like a conventional watch, and contains heart rate sensors as well. Android Wear is also highly customizable, which provides a simple and effective user interface. Thus, an impending smart watch war, between Motorola and Apple, is inevitable; but, given the price discrepancy, can it last? The Apple Watch starts at $349, while the Moto 360 starts at $250. Will the $100 price difference prove detrimental to Apple? If history is any indicator, probably not.
While the Apple Watch is not circular, it does come in two sizes (to accommodate for women's smaller wrists) and three different collections. The base model boasts a stainless steel case and sapphire glass display, while the Sport Watch is comprised of aluminum and rubber. The third Apple Watch is a luxury item, and will be available in 18-Karat yellow and rose gold cases. With functionality appearing roughly equal, customers will likely identify “watch design” as the differentiating factor. That said, Apple’s collection of watches, in addition to its customizable bands, ultimately gives apple the upper hand (and will drive bottom line revenue growth). Although it is unlikely that either device will persuade customers to switch from Android to iOS, or vice versa, Apple did set a new tech standard. However, don't be surprised if accessory sales initially overshadow unit sales.