Earlier this week, Apple took to the stage to announce pricing, availability and generally show off the Apple Watch. Regardless of how you feel about Apple and their devices, it’s hard to deny that the Apple Watch has a lot of excellent features. The fitness side of things looks particularly comprehensive and there are some interesting features where interacting with others is concerned. However, it seems a lot like a lot of good features cobbled together, rather than a coherent experience. Say what you will about the Cards Interface used in Android Wear, but at least the vast majority of apps and notifications look and act the same. The Apple Watch is also expensive. very expensive, and no matter how nice their bands look, the watch face itself still remains the same, even that $10,000 Edition…edition.
Google and their partners should be worried about the Apple Watch, not because it’s a necessarily superior product, but because Apple know how to market something, and boy do they have one hell of a brand cachet. Google and the likes of Motorola and LG need to step up and really highlight Android Wear’s strengths, of which they’re are many. There are two strengths I think Google really needs to push in new marketing; pricing and choice. Not only is the Apple Watch pricey, but aside from the bands – which you can change on the G Watch R, the ZenWatch, the Sony SmartWatch 3 and most other Android Wear watch to whatever you like – the watch face remains the same. There’s little choice with the Apple Watch and everyone is going to know exactly which model you have (at least for the next 12 months or so). With Android Wear however, there’s a good selection of styles and types of watches available, and this is only set to expand. Google’s “Be Together, Not The Same” motto is perfect for Android Wear and a slew of TV spots and ads all over YouTube would do wonders to make people think twice about that pricey iWatch, sorry, Apple Watch.
Choice is an important thing when it comes to watches, they’re something we’re going to put on every morning and wear all day, all week. I still wear an original G Watch, and while I’ve scuffed it a few times, I love how simple it is. Sure, it’s a little chunky on my wrist and I’d agree with people that say there’s not much to it, but I love it. Why? Because it’s modern, minimal and simple. Others love the Moto 360, because it looks like a traditional watch and that charger is pretty cool as well. Older users might want a Watch Urbane from LG and sportier folk can go for a SmartWatch 3. Now, if I were an iPhone user, I’d have one Apple Watch to choose from, just different bands and casings. The point is that there’s more choice with Android Wear than there ever will be on the Apple Watch side of things and Google needs to push that fact through fresh advertizing.
Then there’s the whole pricing argument. In the interest of fairness, we’ll compare the 42mm sizes here, with the Apple Watch Sport starting at $399. You could compare that edition to the Sony SmartWatch 3 which runs about $230 or so, or the basic G Watch which is pretty darn cheap right about now. Meanwhile, the steel case Apple Watch starts at $599 and depending on which strap combination you have it can touch $1,000. I can get a steel Moto 360 for $300, so I could basically get two for the price of the starting Apple Watch in a steel casing.
Okay, so these watches aren’t all the same, but there’s a big gulf in pricing between any Apple Watch and any Android Wear watch. If I were Motorola, I’d be shouting from the rooftops that my device is cheaper. Well, not cheaper, but better value. I understand why Apple prices their devices so highly, it’s not just to make money, but to also put a value on the iPhone, the MacBooks and so on that’s more than just a price tag. There’s a reason people turn and look when a Ferrari drives past; it’s because their expensive. Advertizing that your product is much cheaper might not help its reputation in the market, but the more users it gets on Android Wear, the more developers will come, and the stronger the whole platform will become.
Who knows how well the Apple Watch will perform at launch, but one things’s for sure, the competition in the smartwatch space is about to get super fierce, and unless Google want another uphill battle to reach the top as they had with Android, they need to step up their game when it comes to marketing.