Apple Watch Marketed as Personal Health, Fitness Companion

Calling it the most personal device the company has ever created, Apple on Monday officially launched its smartwatch designed as a “comprehensive health and fitness companion.”

Leveraging an accelerometer, a built-in heart rate sensor, GPS and Wi-Fi from iPhone, Apple Watch “smartly uses the best sensors for different types of motion and provides a comprehensive picture of your all-day activity and workouts,” according to Apple’s announcement.

“We want people to be healthier by being more active, so the Apple Watch tracks your daily movement. It tracks how long you’re exercising or getting brisk activity, and it even reminds you if you’ve been sitting too long,” Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, told the audience at a March 9 product launch event.

Cook said the smartwatch is “like having a coach on your wrist” sending users reminders to be more active, and he said “at the end of the week on a Monday it will send you a report of how you did the previous week.” Apple Watch provides detailed metrics for physical activities, such as walking, running and cycling, through a new Workout app and uses this history to suggest personalized activity goals.

Apple Watch requires iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus running iOS 8.2. or later. An Activity app on iPhone collects the activity and workout data from Apple Watch, providing a “simple visual snapshot of your daily activity with three rings that measure active calories burned, brisk activity and how often you’ve stood up to take a break from sitting during the day.”

On April 24, Apple Watch will be available in nine countries including the United States. The smartwatch comes in two different sizes, 38 mm and 42 mm, and in three versions—Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition. Apple Watch Sport is priced at $349 and $399; Apple Watch ranges from $549 to $1,099; and Apple Watch Edition, crafted from custom rose or yellow 18-karat gold alloys, starts at $10,000.

But, Brent Iadarola, global research director for mobile and wireless communications at Frost & Sullivan, tells Health Data Management that starting at $349 Apple Watch is “definitely not a mass market consumer price point.” Further, he said, because the smartwatch requires an iPhone the price of entry for Apple Watch can be much higher for users of other mobile platforms that will need to become iPhone customers.

Likewise, Ronan de Renesse, lead analyst for consumer technology at Ovum, argues that Apple Watch—what he calls the “ultimate iPhone accessory”—will “be one of the best smartwatches out there" but the lack of unique use cases for it means: it will not have a significant enough competitive edge versus Samsung, LG and Sony; cheap design copycats will successfully thrive, especially in China where it is set to launch on April 24; and its comparatively high $349 entry-level price point will be more difficult to sustain.

“Ovum believes that Apple will have to go beyond just a great design and materials if it wishes to take the Apple Watch to the mass market and convince iPhone users who don’t wear a watch to wear one,” said de Renesse. “While the iPhone and the iPad redefined their respective device segments when they launched, the Apple Watch will not play that role.”

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