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3/9/2015
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Apple Watch Pricing, New MacBook Revealed

Scheduled to ship on April 24, Apple Watch will be available for preorder starting April 10 at prices ranging from $349 to $10,000, depending on the model you choose.

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Apple revealed details about Apple Watch, among other new and upgraded products, in typical fashion, with a live event in San Francisco marked by a phalanx of satellite media trucks, hordes of journalists, and an array of industry partners on Monday.

Speaking at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the Apple Watch will be available for preorder and in-store previews on April 10 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK, and the US. The Apple Watch is scheduled to ship on April 24.

The company also announced an Apple TV price reduction and the addition of HBO service, an open source medical research API for iOS called ResearchKit, and a reengineered MacBook that Apple claims is the most energy-efficient notebook in the world.

(Image: Thomas Claburn)

(Image: Thomas Claburn)

The Apple Watch comes in two sizes, 38mm and 42mm, and in three distinct collections, priced as follows:

  • Apple Watch Sport ($349 to $399)
  • Apple Watch ($549 to $1,099)
  • Apple Watch Edition ($10,000 and up), an 18-karat gold version that will only be offered at select retailers

"In addition to being a beautiful object, the Apple Watch is the most advanced timepiece ever created," said Cook. The Apple Watch is accurate within 50 milliseconds of UTC (Universal Coordinated Time), Cook said.

Cook emphasized the utility of Apple Watch as a communication tool, noting that it can receive calls, present email messages, and even send sketches or heartbeat vibrations to friends with Apple Watches. "This is an incredible, intimate way to tell someone you're thinking about them," said Cook.

[ Thinking of queuing up to buy an Apple Watch next month? Read Apple Watch 2.0: Why You Should Wait. ]

Cook also highlighted Apple Watch as a means to conduct Apple Pay transactions, and said that the Apple Watch battery will last through 18 hours of typical use, considerably more than reports have predicted. However, Apple cautions that battery life depends on a variety of factors, and that actual results may vary.

(Image: Apple)

(Image: Apple)

Gartner last fall predicted that worldwide smartwatch shipments will reach 40 million by the end of 2015, up from 10 million in 2014. Apple appears likely to capture a substantial portion of that market. Forrester analyst James McQuivey in an email estimated that Apple will sell at least 10 million of its smartwatches by the end of the year.

During the presentation, Apple executives focused on the strength of the company's industrial and materials design, evident in the special aluminum alloy used for the Apple Watch and in the refined design of the new MacBook.

In a video, Apple SVP of design Jonathan Ive described the new MacBook as "a product that couldn't exist without invention across many disciplines." Evidence of Apple's innovation can be seen in the notebook's improved keyboard mechanisms, trackpad sensing, display efficiency, and battery layering. The new trackpad, called Force Touch, adds support for pressure sensing, which can be used to control applications that assess pressure input.

The new MacBook will be available on April 10. Sporting a single all-purpose USB-C port, it includes a 1.1 GHz dual-core Intel Core M processor (Turbo Boost speeds up to 2.4 GHz), 8GB of memory, 256GB of flash storage and Intel HD Graphics 5300, starting at $1,299 (US). It's also available with a 1.2 GHz processor and 512GB of flash storage, starting at $1,599 (US).

Apple also updated its 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display and MacBook Air notebooks. The MacBook Pro now features the Force Touch trackpad that debuted in the new MacBook, along with Intel Core processors up to 3.1 GHz (Turbo Boost Speeds up to 3.4 GHz), integrated Intel Iris Graphics 6100, and faster flash storage, with throughput up to 1.6GBps.

The updated 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air models now include Intel Core processors up to 2.2 GHz (Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2 GHz), integrated Intel HD Graphics 6000, and Thunderbolt 2, which supports data transfer rates up to 20Gbps.

Perhaps feeling pressure from Google Chromecast and Amazon FireTV, Apple lowered the price of Apple TV to $69 and introduced HBO Now, a way to stream HBO content to Apple TV and other Apple devices without a cable or satellite service subscription. HBO Now, available in April, costs $15 per month and, until HBO makes deals with other partners, is available exclusively on Apple devices.

Apple ResearchKit Targets Healthcare Data Gathering

Joining recent iOS APIs like CarPlay, HomeKit, and HealthKit, Apple's ResearchKit provides a way to build apps that allow users to participate in medical research by donating data. ResearchKit, explained Jeff Williams, senior vice president of operations at Apple, aims to help researchers overcome the challenges that accompany traditional methods of data collection, such as limited participation, the need to pay some study participants, small sample sizes, subjective medical evaluations, the low frequency of data collection, and the one-way nature of healthcare studies.

"There are hundreds of millions of iPhone users out there, many of whom would gladly contribute if they could do so," said Williams.

Apple has been working with select healthcare organizations to develop ResearchKit apps. Williams discussed an app developed to gather data from people with Parkinson's disease. The app administers interactive tests on the user's smartphone that measure hand and voice tremors, among other data, that can help inform medical diagnoses.

Acknowledging that health-related data is particularly sensitive, Williams emphasized the voluntary nature of ResearchKit apps and Apple's commitment to privacy. "Apple will not see your data," he said.

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Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio

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tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
4/1/2015 | 4:45:00 PM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
The watch really is just a novelty. Another thing to think about with the watch is that if you are on vacation overseas with the watch, you would have to make a choice of whether to allow data roaming at ridiculously expensive rates or take a watch with much reduced functionality.  The laptop is over priced as it is, then you have to add in expensive Office software if you are going to use it for work. On top of that the port issue is a major problem. And now we have to get dongles again?
Whoopty
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50%
Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
3/11/2015 | 6:48:26 AM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
I never get people's willingess to spend so much more on an Apple product than they would on a "PC" laptop that they could just as easily install OS X on. I know some people don't understand that there is no real difference between the two platforms, but surely it can't be that uncommon for people to know this now?

Similarly that smartwatch is so overpriced it's silly. Although it sounds like a powerful piece of kit, as always with Apple you'll get the same product for less somewhere else. 

People like just spending more to feel exclusive I think. 
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/10/2015 | 8:16:20 PM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
tjgkg,

The thing with the Apple Watch, or any other smartwatch for that matter, is to have a mini-computer device attached to your wrist. It's not just a timepiece. 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/10/2015 | 8:12:15 PM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
tgjkg,

How can you possibly know the Apple watch is not accurate? Do you have one already? :/ 

-Susan
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/10/2015 | 8:10:07 PM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
SusanN, 

I, too, am very excited about the new MacBook. I am due for upgrading my MacBookPro, and I was thinking of getting a MacBookAir. Now I think I will get the new MacBook. :D Mobility and a super lightweight are super important for me.

As for all the talk about the extra ports, I can't care less about them. They will be dissapearing from the others as well, maybe later, but they will disappear at the end. 

-SusanF
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
3/10/2015 | 8:01:35 PM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
midmachine, 

Not all the products are for everyone, which doesn't mean the products are bad, or not worth the money. To me, the new MacBook sounds great. 

-Susan
midmachine
50%
50%
midmachine,
User Rank: Strategist
3/10/2015 | 9:14:44 AM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
Sorry, not buying either of these things. The watch is probably the biggest money waster. The laptop really doesn't have enough of a wow factor (or processor speed) to warrant a buy either at that price. Also, in typical Apple fashion, you have to plunk down an additional $80 at their store to get an adaptor for your "regular" USB devices to connect to the new port. $80????? wow...
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
3/10/2015 | 8:54:19 AM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
For a "post PC" world, it's amazing how common this sentiment is, about people being more excited about a light and powerful laptop. I know I would be very fired up to replace my workhorse laptop with something like this.    
tjgkg
50%
50%
tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/10/2015 | 6:04:32 AM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
@Susan: Actually i wanted to get one of these watches and maybe i will get the "low priced" version with a black band. But the cost for a version that i would consider starts at $1000! Considering that is 2.5 to 5 times the price of an iPhone, i just could never bring myself to buying that kind of a phone at that kind of price.

I'm with you regarding the Mac Book. A far more useful item that can be used for your job and for personal tasks. It has a much longer, useful life and financially can be justified.

For my everyday timekeeping needs I will continue to wear my $49 Casio atomic watch which automatically synchs to a time signal and keeps pefect time even when the clock changes. Haven't touched the battery in years and it doesn't look "bougie"!
Susan_Nunziata
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50%
Susan_Nunziata,
User Rank: Strategist
3/9/2015 | 11:03:15 PM
Re: Not all it's cracked up to be
@tjgkg: So, can we assume then that you won't be placing a pre-order on April 10?

I'm far more excited about the new MacBook features. That keypad technology is impressive and the screen resolution looks drool-worthy. I'd much rather spend my hard-earned money on a snazzy, lightweight notebook than a smartwatch. i'm quite happy with my Shinola analog wristwatch made in Detroit by watchmakers trained by Swiss experts and using Swiss parts.

 
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