Apple Watch Decision-Making: Will You Buy the Hot New Tech Accessory?

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Mark your calendar. Open your to-do list. April 10, 12:01 am PT is when Apple puts the Apple Watch up for sale - with delivery starting on April 24.

If you want an Apple Watch in the first wave, don’t delay. Experts are uncertain exactly how successful this product will be over the long run, but there’s wide belief that there are plenty of Apple fans who will swamp the early delivery lines.

Will you buy it? Should you? Answers do not come quickly. Will new owners get true value?

Understand: there is a market for smart watches. Research from Acquity Group said that 5% of us want to buy a smart watch in the next year. Some 23% of consumers said they want a smart watch in the next five years. But smart watches won’t come cheap.

To review: the entry level price for the Apple Watch is $349 for the aluminum version, $549 for steel. The gold Limited Edition starts at $10,000. To make the watch do anything useful you also need an iPhone 6 or 6 Plus or a 5 series phone (5, 5S, 5C). Older phones need not apply.

Note: the argument for an Apple Watch may be strongest for iPhone 5 series owners who, for whatever reason, don’t wish to upgrade to an iPhone 6. That’s because the Apple Watch will enable Apple Pay for those users, something their phones cannot otherwise do. If you want Apple Pay and you also want to keep a 5 series iPhone, your decision is made.

The other must-buy argument: if there is an Apple Watch app that you really crave. Check the list. Right now, frankly, it’s slender. Definitely some apps already are slick. The SPG app - the company runs Westin, St. Regis, W hotels and more - allows the app to function as your hotel room key. Fun? Yes. But it’s not a must-use. But new apps post frequently and Apple is genius at stimulating app developer creativity.

Argument for the “I Want It” side:

For the next several days the loudest argument you will hear is from the buy-now crowd. The core argument: Apple Watch will be cool tech bling and what louder statement than to be an early adopter? Comedian Dan Nainan said he is personally buying two Apple Watches for himself and another five for clients. He added that he is planning to post “an unboxing” video on the 24.

As for that full-speed-ahead plan, Brian Lawley, founder of product management company the 280 Group, was less enthused: “If you want to be known as the Apple Watch person and have a spare $349 to $17,000, then buy one. That said, it remains to be seen whether people with Apple Watches will be envied or whether they’ll get the same reaction that Google Glass wearers got.”

Lawley is right: Google Glass went from kind of cool, maybe, to downright scorned. Nobody knows what Apple Watch’s coolness trajectory holds.

Which bring up another point: the Apple Watch naysayers are gaining in volume. Financial planner Ed Snyder of Oaktree Financial Advisers in Carmel, Ind. offered the succinct argument for saying “no” to Apple Watch: “Unless you have money to blow, I don't understand why you would buy this watch. The cheapest one is $349. Most people should not be spending that much for a watch. I understand it's more than just a watch but isn't that why we have smartphones?”

Snyder has a point. In many ways, the Apple Watch is an iPhone accessory, and what phone needs a pricey accessory?

The good news: there is a third option. Wait. Zach Feldman, chief academic officer at the New York Code + Design Academy, told why delay may be the smartest move right now.

“With the Apple Watch coming out this week, my opinion of it is different than the revamped MacBook, which I would purchase," Feldman said. "The first reason is the app ecosystem. For such a new platform, it just won't have the amount of applications or application maturity that the average Apple consumer expects. The battery life is also stated as only a day. Considering I have trouble remembering to charge my Jawbone Up24, which usually lasts for a week on a charge, I can imagine this could be a big problem. Personally, I'd wait for generation two, which is when I might get one.”

Think on that. Apple, almost always, gets a product a lot more right in its second iteration - and with an app-based Apple Watch, there also will be a lot more apps than a year from now. What’s the harm in waiting on this one? Really no harm at all, at least not for anybody who doesn’t have to be first on the block.

Also caveat emptor: many early reviewers have noted Apple Watch has a steep learning curve.  Expect a day - or three - of deep diving into the small format computer on your wrist before it does much useful. Do you have the time? Now? 

Still uncertain? Apple knows your name, and it has a fourth choice. Make an appointment to go into an Apple Store, starting Friday, Apple 10, for a few quality minutes spent with an Apple Watch and a sales rep. Apple is betting you won’t walk out without placing an order. What’s your bet?

—Written by Robert McGarvey for MainStreet

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held TK positions in the stocks mentioned.

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