Watch’s ‘profound ramifications’ for Scottish business

On Monday March 9, Apple launches its most important product since the iPad.

The Apple Watch was revealed last September, but this announcement is likely to include the date when the watch will be available to buy, more information about its functionality and, crucially for some, pricing.

When Apple chief executive Tim Cook first unveiled the watch last autumn, he said the start price would be $349 – for the Apple Watch Sport. Since then, speculation about the cost of the other options – Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition – has been intense.

The company says the Sport collection cases are made from “lightweight anodised aluminium in silver and space grey. The display is protected by strengthened Ion-X glass. And the matching fluoroelastomer strap comes in five different colours”.

The Apple Watch collection features “highly polished stainless steel and space black stainless steel cases. The display is protected by sapphire crystal. And there’s a choice of three different leather straps, a link bracelet, a Milanese loop and a strap made from high-performance fluoroelastomer”.

And the Apple Watch Edition collection features “six uniquely elegant expressions of Apple Watch. Each has a watch case crafted from 18-carat gold that our metallurgists have developed to be up to twice as hard as standard gold. The display is protected by polished sapphire crystal. And an exquisitely designed strap provides a striking complement”.

Last September, Apple commentator John Gruber speculated on the price: “Hundreds [of dollars] for Sport, a thousand for stainless steel, thousands for gold.

“Most people think I’m joking when I say the gold ones are going to start at $5,000. I couldn’t be more serious. I made a friendly bet last week with a few friends on the starting price for the Edition models, and I bet on $9,999”.

In February, he said the the Edition may cost between $10,000 and $20,000.

Whatever the price, the effect of the watch on the technology sector, business in general and consumer behaviour will be, according to developers canvassed by FutureScot, “profound”.

“The Apple Watch will have a significant impact on the way we use technology,” said Michael Romilly, marketing director of Waracle, the mobile app and web service company. “It’s likely to rejuvenate consumer interest in wearable tech, something that could last for many years.

“It’ll change the way we think about integrated technology and the ramifications for businesses in Scotland will be profound.

“For businesses who are already embracing mobile it means adapting. For businesses that haven’t developed a mobile-first strategy, it’s an opportunity to get something in place quickly. For marketers, this will bring about an enormous shift in the way people discover your content via search engines.

“Apple Watch will drive massive uptake in voice activated search and you’ll need to consider how spoken word queries differ from traditional search behaviour.

“Given the size of the device, Google will only return a limited number of search results so its essential you’re content features at the top end. You’ll need to focus on ensuring you rank at #1 for a particular keyword phrase rather than appearing on the first page for several.

“It’s not just marketers who are going to be affected, it changes everything for software developers and IT Managers too.

“If you’re a software development manager you’ll need to consider how to develop a UI/UX that works on a tiny device and consider how this affects your current apps. If you’re an IT Manager it means yet another wave of new devices need to be configured via your internal network. If you’re a CEO of a company in Scotland, the time to start thinking about a wearable strategy is right now in order to get ahead of your competitors.

“Here at Waracle we’re already considering how the Apple Watch is likely to impact on our customers.”

According to Matthew Panzarino, of TechCrunch, the watch may change the way people interact with their phone: “People that have worn the Watch say that they take their phones out of their pockets far, far less than they used to. A simple tap to reply or glance on the wrist or dictation is a massively different interaction model than pulling out an iPhone, unlocking it and being pulled into its merciless vortex of attention suck.

“One user told me that they nearly stopped using their phone during the day; they used to have it out and now they don’t, period. That’s insane when you think about how much the blue glow of smartphone screens has dominated our social interactions over the past decade.”

In an interview with The Financial Times, Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, spoke about the difference between developing the iPhone and the Apple watch: “It was different with the phone — all of us working on the first iPhone were driven by an absolute disdain for the cellphones we were using at the time. That’s not the case here. We’re a group of people who love our watches. So we’re working on something, yet have a high regard for what currently exists.”