And with the launch of WatchOS 5, that £15,000 Apple Watch is now dead to Apple
When Apple launched its first smartwatch in 2015, it released versions for all budgets. Well, two budgets at any rate: those with plenty of money, and those for whom the ratio of ‘money’ and ‘sense’ were seriously out of whack.
So while the standard device started at (and still goes for) £329, those who really wanted to ostentatiously flaunt their wealth could do so with a special edition of the watch which started at £8,000 and went all the way up to £15,000, depending on which of the Earth’s precious natural resources you wanted dug up to make your wrist a bit more sparkly.
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At the time, anybody with an understanding of tech cycles could tell you this was a false economy. Simply put, there was no way the first generation of any tech was going to be worth that much in six months, let alone ten years. While you can make a case for buying expensive, artisan-crafted Swiss watches for tens of thousands, there’s a crucial difference: the technology in clocks is pretty much as good as it’s going to get, refined over five centuries. Smartwatches were – and are – still in their infancy.
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When Apple announced WatchOS 5 at WWDC in San Jose this week, a bunch of new features were cited including the ability to read whole web pages (for some reason) and the ability to use your Watch as a Walkie Talkie (for another reason). As needless as these new additions may appear, they won’t be making their way to first generation Apple Watches because Apple’s next-generation software is only rolling out to the second-generation and later. This means those costing over £8,000, which use the same internals as their cheaper siblings, will no longer get the latest software updates.
That’s an expensive lesson in tech life cycles right there.
It’s not clear how many of the super expensive wearables were actually sold – certainly not enough for Apple to make a habit of producing them. While you can still buy more expensive ceramic versions of the Apple Watch, they’re considerably cheaper, available on the Apple store for ‘just’ £1,299. Still, some were sold and were spotted on the wrists of the rich and famous, including Beyoncé and Karl Lagerfeld.
So sadly Lagerfeld and Bey can’t use the new Walkie Talkie function of the Apple Watch to discuss fashion, the subtleties of Run the World or indeed, anything else. Well, they can – but only if they suffer the ignominy of buying a cheaper, but ultimately better, model.
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No new hardware was announced at WWDC 2018, which is typically more of a software jamboree. That doesn’t mean we won’t be seeing anything new for the wrist from Apple this year, however – September is usually the month that the company refreshes its mobile line. So set your £8,000 Apple Watch for then – if you haven’t already torn it off your wrist in disgust.