It's been interesting to see reports trickle out from the press. One, by one, by one they came out. Reportely a year ago, Tim Cook gave the green light (and a massive budget) to build a team of people of at least 100 deep to start work on an electric Apple Car. In the past year, there's solid evidence Apple has been poaching talent from Tesla, car battery companies and the rest of the automotive industry. It's become more and more clear Apple is pretty serious about this.
Lots of people are asking - why would Apple build a car? Sure, more revenue streams are great. Applying Apple's ecosystem and design concepts to a car would be awesome, I don't doubt that. But there's another reason not many people are talking about it and I think it's the main reason why Apple is and will build an electric car and have it on the street in 7-10 years. Apple cares deeply about sustainability and environmental responsibility. In Apple's own words, on their in-depth Environmental Responsibility page on their site:
"We strive to create products that are the best they can be in every way. Products that are beautiful, easy to use and powerful. And the same passion for innovation goes into how we think about environmental responsibility. It's why we work tirelessly to reduce our impact on climate change, find ways to use greener materials and conserve the resources we all need to thrive. And while we're proud of the progress we've made, we know we can still do better. It won't all happen overnight. But we can work to get better every day."
Tim Cook even narrates a video on environmental responsibility. They have whole pages on climate change, toxins and finite resources, and all of the work they are doing to be environmentally responsible. I think Steve Jobs took environmental responsibility seriously, but I think Tim Cook takes environmental responsibility REALLY seriously.
If Apple is able to help push the electric vehicle into the mainstream in the next 20 to 30 years and greatly reduce worldwide tailpipe GHG emissions, the Apple Car could be the most important product Apple has ever done - and this is something Apple is really interested in pursuing long term. I think Apple looks at this IHS chart of projected vehicle powertrain types to year 2040 and says, "I think we can do better. That light green bar should be bigger than that in 25 years. Let's do something about it."
Elon Musk and Tesla have been saying this exact thing for many years. They have been doing amazing work in this space and have huge lead over Apple right now (although sometimes I feel Tesla prioritize speed and acceleration a little too much over actually making cars... where is that Model X, Elon?) Pushing electric vehicles into the mainstream worldwide is going to require many companies focused on this goal and competing with each other to push each other on price, performance and vehicle classes. No one company can do it alone. There's a group of companies working towards it already and Apple wants in. I believe this is something Apple really cares about and they think they can really help this effort. They're thinking long term and going for it. And having $173 billion (and growing) in the bank sure helps. We'll see.
The Apple Watch intrigues me for a variety of reasons but it's the anticipated convenience that attracts me the most. We all hate being the guy who is in the middle of a conversation or at dinner or watching a presentation, and we feel a buzz in the pocket and want to take a glance at our phone to see what's going on. Most of the time it's nothing you need to act on at that moment and then you realize you look like a douchebag pulling out your phone only to see it's a notification that isn't really important at all - like TheScore app telling you the Flames recalled an AHL player. I see the Apple Watch being a huge help in these situations. A quick glance at the wrist - ok, it's nothing, back to the conversation. Apple Watch mainly for glances, iPhone for taking action on any notifications when you have to. The Apple Watch will greatly reduce the amount of times you dig your phone out of your pocket or purse. There are plenty of other Apple Watch features that appeal to me, but being able to see what's going on with a quick, convenient and non-intrusive glance at my wrist - that's my most anticipated feature.
It's very obvious Apple has gone full blown - this is a fashion item, not a smart watch. A different approach than most other smart watches. There's good and bad to this and the bad will mostly be that massive hole in your bank account because these things won't be cheap.
High-end watches are expected to last over 30 years - they could be heirlooms in families. How long until the first-generation Apple Watch is out-dated? We all know future Apple Watches will be thinner, more powerful and have more sensors so do you really want to price this thing comparable to a high-end watch or even a Rolex? Based on some rumors, they will be pricing this thing very high. Today, Apple announced they will hold an event on March 9th where they will no doubt release all the pricing information and launch details about the Apple Watch. But right now, we know that the base aluminium model (most likely the smaller 38mm version), will be $349 USD. That'll most likely come with a sport band, the least expensive of all the bands. Of course, you'll want more bands and those metallic ones (milanese and link), don't look cheap. How much will the stainless steel one cost? Could it cost $1,000? How much will the solid 18k gold Apple Watch Edition cost? This is the grand daddy of them all and will obviously be marketed towards people with deep pockets and an expensive taste in fashion. Consensus is that it could cost upwards of $10,000. Yikes.
Apple has never had that much spread in the cost of a device between versions. Not even close. We're in uncharted territory here and it'll be very interesting to see how it plays out. Is Tim Cook really going to go on stage and say this version of our Apple Watch will cost $10,000? How will he justify that? "It's solid gold, baby!" I'm very interested to see.
And lastly, for fun, I'm going to guess the prices of all the Apple Watches and bands. We'll see how I do on March 9th. Below are my guesses in USD. I'll assume all watches come with a sport band and you have to buy additional bands separately.
Apple Watch Sport 38 mm - $349 (we know this already)
Apple Watch Sport 42mm - $399
Apple Watch 38mm - $699
Apple Watch 42mm - $799
Apple Watch Edition 38mm - $6,999
Apple Watch Edition 42mm - $8,999
Sport Band - $79
Classic Buckle - $99
Milanese Loop - $169
Modern Buckle - $199
Leather Loop - $199
Link Bracelet - $249