Wild Speculation on Apple Watch Pricing

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 4 min read

I was listening to the latest episode of Resolve, in which Abdel Ibrahim and his guest Mark Gurman discuss the Apple Watch at length. If you follow, Abdel on Twitter, you've surely seen him go on at length about the Apple Watch. As opposed to most other people who are only talking about the Watch in abstract terms, Abdel's thinking about the nitty gritty details of such a device. I really like his commentary. If you want to find someone who is publicly thinking about (over-thinking?) Apple Watch, Abdel is your guy.

One of the things that I've started pondering lately is the pricing for each different Watch. We know the Sport, Apple's entry level device, will be $349, but the pricing for the standard Watch and still a mystery.

Below, I break down each model for what I think it and its wristbands will sell for. I have no inside information, but why not have a little fun? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Apple Watch Sport - $349

I think that Apple Watch Sport will be the most popular model by far. Apple is an aspirational brand that is still attainable for most people, but only just barely. In my experience selling iPads to "ordinary people" for a couple years, I know that most people will buy the entry level model, and don't even want to hear about the more expensive ones. While the benefits of spending an extra $100 to upgrade from 16GB of storage to 64GB seems reasonable, most people just want to get an iPad and could care less about the higher end models.

Bottom line: if advertising indicates the "Apple Watch starts at $349", most people will take that as "Apple Watch costs $349".

The added challenge for a salesperson attempting to upsell a customer on a more expensive Watch is that all models have the exact same feature set. From a technical perspective, they all work the same. I think a lot of people will be able to legitimize buying the base model, but balk at spending a penny more.

I also think that this model will ship with the white wristband bundled with the watch, and you will be able to buy other colors for $69. The space grey model will come with the black wristband.

Apple Watch - $499

We don't know for sure yet, but I don't think that the price could be anything else. $499 feels like the ceiling for something this small if they want to sell it in high volumes. I also don't see how it could be any less. If it's $399, it's basically the same price as the Sport. I don't think they'd do $449 because, and this is silly how we think, but $449 and $499 look basically the same to almost everyone. When we're making buying decisions, our brains see basically no difference in those numbers. I don't think sales change one bit if Apple picks either of those prices. Of course Apple will make it a clean $499.

As I mentioned before, there is no technical feature that sets this model apart from the Sport. Sure, you get a more scratch-resistant screen, stainless steel construction, and more wristband options, but how much is that worth? I feel really good about $150 being a big enough gap that Apple can still turn a profit on each one they sell, while keeping the price low enough that average people consider it.

Unlike the Sport, there are many different bands you can get for the standard Watch, so guessing is harder on this one. I think each Apple Watch will come with the Link Bracelet, and additional bands will cost $99-$149.

Apple Watch Edition - $1,999

Guesses are all over the map on this one. Some people think it will be around $1,000 and some estimates skyrocket past the $10,000 mark. My guess may be extremely conservative, but I don't think Apple will go as high as some people fear think. People have speculated about how much gold is in each Edition watch. If we knew the exact amount, guessing would be much easier. That said, I don't think there is as much as some are expecting. Yes, it sounds like it's more than just gold plating, but being too much more than that seems stupid. Then again, this is a luxury item, so being stupid might be a feature.

I think that our technology-based mindset gets the better of us with thinking about the Apple Watch. When we compare the Apple Watch Edition to other super high end watches, we think, "it's made of the same materials, and it does a whole lot more than those old fashioned watches, so Apple could charge even more than them." It is very true that an Apple Watch in 2015 will do much more than any traditional watch you can buy. However, that mechanical watch is going to last for decades, even centuries if it's well taken care of. Your Apple Watch is probably not even going to power on 10 years from now. And if it does, what are the odds that it will be compatible with iOS 18?

While there are people in the world who can afford to spend $10,000+ on a new Apple Watch every couple years, I don't like to think that Apple is the sort of company who makes that type of product. I don't like the idea that Apple could sell a watch that costs more than a lightly used Hyundai Accent. There are other companies that do that now, and I have never thought that Apple should be more like them. Ick.

My guess of $1,999 is just a wild guess. While I feel like my guesses for all other prices in this post are going to be very close to spot on, this guess feels like throwing a dart at a dartboard...blindfolded. Maybe I'll be right, or maybe I'll be wrong my an order of magnitude. What I know for sure is that I will be buying an Apple Watch this year, but it ain't gonna be this one.