BEIJING: Apple Inc had China front and center at the San Francisco launch of its smart Apple Watch, the new Apple Watch will go on sale in China on April 24, the same day as the United States unlike the iPhone 6, which hit Chinese stores almost a month after the U.S.
But even in this Apple crazed country the second-biggest iPhone market after the U.S. it seems too early to say whether the curved wrist pieces from Cupertino will command that must have cachet for millions of middle upper-class Chinese.
Beyond the fashion or gadget argument, the Apple Watch carries a hefty price tag in China. The cheapest Sport model will sell at a little below 3,000 yuan ($479), including tax, versus $349 in the United States, while the top-end luxury Edition will set buyers back more than 145,000 yuan ($23,157), against $17,000 in the U.S.
That’s a lot to pay for a luxury digital product that could be swiftly outdated if Apple does what it does with its smart phones, and brings out a new version each year.
There may be other practical drawbacks, too, for Chinese users – from the screen size to the lack of any ‘killer app’.
“It’s almost impossible to send WeChat messages when staring at such a small screen,” said Huang Hongwen, 46, a freelancer in Shanghai. “I’d rather buy a traditional luxury watch at the same price,” she said of the luxury Edition.
Also, Chinese haven’t taken to personal health-related consumer technology in the same way as Americans have on wearable devices.
“For health-related products in China, most consumers buy them because they’re cheap,” said Bryan Wang, vice president of Forrester Research in Beijing. “How many are buying those? Not many,” he said.
Wang predicts that most early adopters of the Watch, likely tech and Apple fans, will opt for the mid range standard version rather than the Sport or luxury Edition.