Apple has high hopes for the Apple Watch — its first new product category in four years — placing an initial order with Asian manufacturers for between 5 million and 6 million of the devices, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Apple Watch is slated to go on sale in April, priced starting at $349, which in typical fashion for the company is well above the price of competing smartwatches. And there’s a luxury 18-karat gold model expected to be several thousand dollars.
“My expectations are very high on it,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said on the tech giant’s earnings call last month. “I’m using it every day and love it and can’t live without it.” He added that the Apple Watch is “right on schedule” to ship in April.
The devices feature the company’s Retina high-resolution displays, with screens 1.5-1.7 inches (38-42 millimeters) high.
The Apple Watch line is mainly a sidekick to the flagship iPhone, designed for alerts, quick access to info and apps and telling time. For Internet access or to make or receive calls, the smartwatches will require an iPhone. The watches also include the ability to play music (disconnected from an iPhone) and can act as a remote control for Apple TV set-tops and control music on iPhones.
However, while Apple originally envisioned the smartwatches as health devices — which could monitor heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels — those features will not be included in the initial units, according to the Journal. The problem was that those features worked inconsistently, depending on factors such as hairy arms, dry skin or even how tightly a user wore the devices. Instead, Apple Watch will include only a pulse-monitoring capability.
About half of Apple’s first-quarter orders for the smartwatches will be the entry-level Apple Watch Sport model, with one-third for a midtier model with stainless-steel casing and a watch face covered by sapphire crystal, the Journal reported, citing anonymous sources. The remainder would be about 1 million units of the 18-karat gold high-end Apple Watch Edition model; the company plans to boost production of the edition to more than 1 million per month in Q2, per the Journal.