Apple Watch looks awesome… but it’s too expensive for Asia

Apple Watch looks awesome… but it’s too expensive for Asia

The US$550 price tag is unlikely to find a receptive audience in the region
David Corbin

Today, Apple finally announced its long-speculated smart watch offering, the Apple Watch. The device looks fantastic. A square design with customizable straps, Apple Watch has a user-friendly interface for accessing standard apps, tracking your health, using the new Apple Pay wireless payment system, and, of course, telling time. With three options to choose from, Watch, Sport, and Edition, there should be something for everyone.

Will Asia embrace the new technology when it is released in early next year though? Apple clearly put an enormous amount of research and development into its watch. The starting price of US$349 (HK$2,704.9) is enough indication. At that price, it might have some takers, seeing as how Samsung’s Gear S is expected to retail at about US$385.

Apple Watch requires an iPhone to operate, making its real price much, much higher. The newly announced iPhones, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, start retailing at US$199 and US$299, respectively. Those prices assume a two-year mobile subscription plan.

New users without an iPhone have to shell out a minimum of US$550 in order to get an Apple Watch. The Gear S, on the other hand, does not require the purchase of a Samsung phone to operate. To be released in October, Samsung’s smartwatch is able to make phone calls independently.

A visitor holds a Samsung Gear S smartwatch at the IFA consumer technology fair in Berlin. Photo: Reuters

But Apple’s ecosystem is an undeniable strength. The way it locks consumers into the virtuous cycle of iPod, iPhone, Mac, App Store, iTunes Store, and Apple TV is enviable. Even so, the Apple Watch may represent one step too far.

When the iPhone was released, it was similarly derided as being a plaything of the rich. Its early US$499 price tag was very offsetting. Though it was the first of its kind and that sort of uniqueness has value, Apple had to quickly reset its price structure. The next generation iPhone settled into the more familiar price of US$199.

Apple Watch is not the first of its kind. Once user reviews start coming out we will know if the tech and the user experience are everything Apple promises but, for now, it is just one more option in a crowded wearables world inhabited by Samsung, Xiaomi, Casio, Sony, and others.

Who is going to choose that option anyway? Korea is Samsung territory. Japanese consumers have the country’s GDP performing at financial crisis levels. Singapore and Hong Kong have purchasing power but not population. And that minimum US$550 price tag is very unlikely to find a receptive audience in Southeast Asian countries with developing economies.

With cheap, reliable competitors like Samsung and Xiaomi, Apple does not have a stranglehold on Asian consumers. The Apple Watch, despite its technological promises, is unlikely to have the same impact on the tech giant the same way the iPhone did.

This article was originally published by Tech in Asia and was edited and republished with permission.


PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 September, 2014, 12:42pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 September, 2014, 6:04pm


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Robert Chaen

Global CEO-Founder of ChangeU and Movsha Movers & Shakers, Hero-CEO Whisperer, Writer, The #1 Alpha Change Expert, Father of Asian FireWalking Robert Chaen is an International Keynote Speaker, writer, researcher, and corp games designer. He is famously known to be the “Hero-CEO Whisperer”, 1-on1 coaching with many CEOs and Celebrities for corporate strategies, staff & office political issues, personal branding, and even public figure OSHA safety drilling called Drager Defense. He has transformed CEOs and managers in Coca-Cola China, TVB Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airport Services, VADS, TM, Public Bank, Auditor General's Office Maldives, etc. He is the prolific creator and online Author of innovative management tools such as DragonCEO, Diamond Leader, Papillon Personal Effectiveness, OSHA Drager Defense, KPI Bank, etc. He is also the Founder of Movsha, an international networking with monthly mingles with MOVers & SHAkers, Angels, Entrepreneurs, CEOs, Celebrities, HR-PR-CSR, HODs, and the Most Influential IDEA people. ​Chaen is widely considered as one of the top International Platform Keynote Speakers for Resorts World Genting Senior Management Conference (Manila), 7-Eleven HK, Samsung, Coca-Cola China Mini-MBA @Tsing Hua University, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Jockey Club, The Story Conference where he interviewed Datuk Kamarudin (Chairman of AirAsia) and Siti Nurhaliza. He has been widely featured in TVB, AWSJ, CNBC, SCMP, The Star, and Sin Chew. As “The Father of Asian FireWalking”, he coached TVB celebrities (Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin) to walk on 650°C fire; and raised HK$68M in the world’s 1st and only live TV Charity FireWalk (TVB Tung Wah Charity Show), before Tony Robbins even came to Asia. If Robert can get you to walk on 650⁰C fire, he can inspire you to be THE BEST. He champions CN-HK-EU-US Tycoons to be philanthropic, and to be angel investors to support the next generation of Jack Mas, Steve Jobs, Richard Bransons, Steven Spielbergs, or Barrack Obamas. With some slick motivational speakers with fake doctorates out there, graduates often describe Robert to be "the most credible, empowering, truthful Coach" who believe in his graduates to believe in themselves. ​However, clients have described Robert as "The #1 Cool Badass Alpha Change Expert". He has the coolest first class stature, rapport and trust from clients. He will not hesitate to tell the badass truth ever so gently because clients are paying him big bucks to reveal the truth, find solutions, persuade the hostile HODs, and align cross-teams within the organization. Originally based in Hong Kong for 20+ years, he had worked with top Branding/Ad agencies at J Walter Thompson and Leo Burnett, and was a certified FranklinCovey (7 Habits) in USA, and NLP MasterCoach (USA). His warmth is known to soften the most hardened, resistant sceptics. He will inspire your team to Go for Top 1, or to be a Dragon CEO. With boundless energies, Robert owns 15+ successful business Joint-Ventures, and created unique products under his global VC network called Chaen's Angels VC. He is deeply passionate about ChangeUTH Youth CSR, Science-Based Medicine (vs. quackery), short films and Reality TV. Touched by a personal tragedy through the loss of his HK-born Portuguese wife, co-coach and business partner, Brenda José of 18 years, Robert explores the many ways in which the spirit world is communicating with the living with real scientific studies and evidence. He gives inspiring conferences on The Secret Afterlife.

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