Apple is going upscale in a way it never has before in order to sell its high-priced wearable. The Apple Watch goes on sale April 24, but you won't be able to simply walk into a store and buy one. Instead, Apple will require appointments for watch seekers.
Buying the gold-plated Watch Edition? Expect an hour-long, private sales experience.
It's clear Apple is taking its forthcoming smartwatch very seriously. The company has begun to prepare its retail stores for the device, and will include dedicated areas for people to try on the various sizes and wristband styles. Stock will probably be limited at launch, notes 9to5mac, and customers will need to schedule dedicated times to try the device on and buy it. This makes a certain degree of sense. With so many varieties from which to choose, consumers will want to be sure the model they pick is comfortable and attractive. Apple has long referred to the device as its most personal ever.
If you've got the cash to pay for the Apple Watch Edition, which ranges from $10,000 to $17,000, then you can expect a much more upscale experience from Apple.
Apple is telling employees the gold watch is "the ultimate expression of extraordinary craftsmanship, incredible innovation, and design driven by functionality and end use," and that it represents "technology becoming seductive, with desirability not necessarily defined simply by a price tag or elitism, but rather meticulous focus on usefulness and utility rooted in beauty."
In addition, "[m]ost Edition customers are interested in this collection for the intrinsic value that a gold watch offers along with the unique style choices available." In other words, Apple is going to treat people who walk in with wads of money like the upscale customers they are.
Apple Watch Edition buyers will be treated to private appointments with experts specially trained to work with high-end clientele, reports 9to5mac, citing sources familiar with Apple's plans. Given the high value of the wearable, customers will be allowed to have only two gold watches in hand at a time. Watch Edition purchases will have a special station with stools, and jewelry-store mats. Customers can have their watch set up by the in-store experts or through a new virtual personal setup option.
Apple will also provide Watch Edition buyers with dedicated 24/7 support for a period of two years.
The Watch Edition will reach the largest markets first. It will be an exclusive at Apple's most prominent stores in cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. It will trickle down to other markets gradually. Customers will, however, be able to order the Watch Edition online and have it brought by courier to the Apple Store of their choice.
If you're an average Joe, you can expect a less personal experience. Standard Apple employees will be on hand to help Sport and Stainless Steel buyers, and will generally assist as many customers at a time as is practical.
Apple's well-monied customers can thank Angela Ahrendts for their Apple Watch Edition purchasing experience, who's now in charge of Apple retail store operations. Before joining the company, Ahrendts worked at Burberry in London.
[ Read about the Apple Watch event. ]
It's safe to say the experience will be unique to Apple's wearable, at least at first. Makers of smartwatches running Google's Android Wear platform don't offer such luxuries. Motorola comes closest, perhaps, with its Moto Maker design experience, which lets people design their own smartwatch online.
Market analysis firm IDC expects wearables to explode in the coming years thanks to the hype surrounding the Apple Watch.
"Smart wearables are about to take a major step forward with the launch of the Apple Watch this year," Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's Wearables team, wrote in a March 30 statement. "The Apple Watch raises the profile of wearables in general and there are many vendors and devices that are eager to share the spotlight. Basic wearables, meanwhile, will not disappear. In fact, we anticipate continued growth here as many segments of the market seek out simple, single-use wearable devices."
IDC predicts shipments of smart wearables will jump an astonishing 510.9% from 4.2 million in 2014 to 25.7 million in 2015.
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