The Apple Watch is moving out of the high-end boutique world and into big-box retail through a Best Buy partnership.
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Apple is expanding the availability of its Watch smartwatch through a partnership with big-box retailer Best Buy, which will carry the device in more than 100 Best Buy stores starting Aug. 7, and will also be available on the retailer's website.
A July 26 Best Buy release noted that more information would be available in the coming days, including the locations of the stores where the Watch will be on display.
It will be the first national retailer, other than Apple Stores, where customers can buy the Apple Watch.
Best Buy also noted that the Watch would be available for purchase in more than 200 stores in time for the lucrative holiday shopping season.
Retail customers will be able to see, try, and buy 16 Apple Watch models -- including Sport and Watch models in both 38mm and 42mm sizes, as well as nearly 50 accessories, including watch bands, screen shields, stands, and chargers.
So far, Apple has stuck to a Web-based sales model and a few high-end retail stores, including Galeries Lafayette in Paris, Isetan in Tokyo, and Selfridges in London, as well as boutiques such as Colette in Paris, Dover Street Market in London and Tokyo (but not New York), Maxfield in Los Angeles, and The Corner in Berlin.
Michael Oh, CTO and founder of Apple specialist TSP, told InformationWeek it's hard to know whether or not Apple decided to expand into a national retailer because of lackluster -- or what are perceived to be lackluster -- sales.
"From Apple's position, I would expect they would open up channels outside their stores, it was really just a question of when," Oh said. "It does seem a little bit soon. I thought they would stick more to the Selfridges type of store in London, but it's a product that has a $400 price tag, so it's certainly within the realm of what Best Buy could deal with. You're going go with someone who has a national footprint, and honestly they're probably the only ones that fit the bill."
An Apple enthusiast who has had the Watch since its debut, Oh said he enjoys using the device on a daily basis for work purposes, though he typically swaps it out for his TAG Heuer on the weekends.
"I think when the first iPhone came out and it had all the limitations it did, you could see the potential of the device," Oh said. "The Apple Watch is the same way. It's part of this ever-changing mindset about technology. I think it's going to be a successful platform."
Despite the potential for the device, Oh has one word of warning for Apple -- charging $10,000 for the top-of-the-line model is uncharted and potentially dangerous territory for a consumer technology company.
"In the fashion world, you can have companies in that upper echelon and companies that are not, and it's very difficult to bridge the gap. I understand what Apple's trying to do, but I think with tech, it's sort of dangerous," he said. "My biggest comment is that if I paid $10,000 for this thing, I would be really pissed off, you know? I know people have that kind of money and want to throw it away, but they don't have that kind of money because they're dumb."
Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio
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