Apple’s sales overhaul for Apple Watch will focus on building trust, offering fashion views, upselling bands

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The job of Apple Retail Store employees will begin changing in profound ways next month. In order to showcase and sell the Apple Watch, retail employees will be trained to provide personal fashion and styling advice to customers, according to employees briefed on the plans. Until now, Apple Retail has been tasked with recommending iPads, iPhones and Macs with few styling options aside from limited color options.

Apple is pushing for retail employees to initiate conversations that build trust, enabling the employee to serve as a valued fashion advisor during the purchase process, similarly to how traditional watches are sold. Apple Watch sales training programs will take place for Apple retail staff over the course of the next two weeks, teaching entirely new sales techniques to encourage iPhone upgrades, assist with gifting, and guide customers in watch and strap choices.

Below, we detail how employees will provide fashion advice to customers and Apple’s multi-part plan for selling an Apple Watch.

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Poll: Which MacBook are you? Space Gray, Silver or Gold

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If you are like us, probably the toughest decision you are facing this year is figuring out which new Retina MacBook color you will be getting. The buying process otherwise is more like buying an iPad than a Mac with only 2 speed/storage models.

Will you match your Space Gray iPad and iPhone and now Apple Watch? Or, will you sport the same silver of the Macs that actually do some real work? Will you go off the grid and show your lawyer/banker colleagues who is boss with the gold model?

It is a tough and important call because you WILL be judged – you can’t just embarrassingly hide a MacBook in a wallet case like my Gold iPhone.  You’ve had a few days to mull it over. So what’s it going to be?

Apple supply chain buyers, this ^^^ data is on us. Feel free to send any leftover MacBooks as compensation. Read more

Apple saving money on the gold in Apple Watch Edition, could be planning a platinum model for future designs

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Tim Cook and Jony Ive have both spoken numerous times about the Apple Watch Edition being more scratch-resistant than standard 18-karat gold, describing it as ‘twice as hard’ as standard gold but but without explaining how. A patent application (via Leancrew) appears to explain this–and shows that Apple saves money on the gold into the bargain.

18-karat gold isn’t pure gold, it is defined as being 75% gold by weight. The remaining 25% of the mix is usually made up of one or more other metals, with silver and copper popular choices. The Apple patent describes mixing gold with low-density ceramic particles instead of metal.

Because weight, not volume, is what defines the karat gold standards, Apple’s watch could use less than a third the gold of a conventional alloy while still qualifying as 18-karat gold …  Read more

Apple Watch straps will be available to purchase separately at launch

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Despite speculation to the contrary, Apple does in fact plan to sell an array of bands as separate accessories for the Apple Watch at launch, according to sources. So far Apple has only shown the Watch in pre-assembled collections, which reduces their potential for customization, but our sources say that Apple’s retail outlets will be stocked on day one with individual straps so customers can easily mix and match the looks of their Watches.

While Apple has hinted at millions of combinations of Apple Watch when considering the various watch faces and interchangeable strap combos, up until now we’ve not had confirmation that straps would be available to purchase separately alongside the Apple Watch at launch. Read more

Can you guess the price of the 18-karat gold Apple Watch?

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Can you guess the price of the gold Apple Watch? There has been a lot of speculation about how much the 42mm and 38mm versions of the 18-karat Apple Watch Edition will cost, but we wanted to poll the 9to5Mac community to see where everyone stands. Put your guess in the comments, vote using the polls below, and we’ll check back in April to point fingers, etc.

We do have some clues about how much it might cost: We reported recently that Apple Stores are being prepped with jewelry store-style touches for the Apple Watch launch, including safes that will store the expensive 18-karat gold Watch Edition models. That could be a hint that we’re looking at a product pricier than anything Apple currently has in stock at its stores. Read more

FiftyThree announces gold version of its popular ‘Pencil’ stylus for iPad

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Earlier this month FiftyThree’s popular Pencil stylus for iPad joined the accessory lineup in Apple’s retail stores, and today FiftyThree is unveiling a new gold brushed and anodized finish variant of its Bluetooth stylus. FiftyThree’s Pencil Gold color matches that latest iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 which are both available in gold versions, while the new Pencil holds the same $59.95 price tag at the existing Walnut option.

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Apple Watch launch expected in March, retail training set for mid-February

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Apple is finishing up work on the Apple Watch’s software, and sources familiar with the product’s development say that the device is currently on track to ship in the United States by the end of March. Apple previously said that the wearable product will ship in “early 2015,” while Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts got a bit more specific by telling employees that the launch will occur in the “spring,” after the Chinese New Year…

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Report claims steel Apple Watch to start at $500, gold model between $4-5K

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French website iGen.fr, which has provided reliable information in the past, reported on Tuesday that the steel Apple Watch will start at $500 alongside a gold model that will retail for between $4,000 and $5,000. Apple previously claimed at its September event that the Apple Watch would start at $349, but did not disclose further pricing information.

The report claims that the stainless steel Apple Watch in polished steel or black will cost $500, while the gold Apple Watch Edition will be the more expensive version at between $4,000 and $5,000. That price range would be nearly half the estimated $10,000 price that some other reports have suggested.

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Bloomberg corroborates reports of gold iPad coming with next hardware revision

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In line with previous claims, Bloomberg is now reporting that Apple is planning to introduce a gold model to its iPad lineup with the release of the next-generation iPad Air. Interestingly, the report is specific to note that the full-size model will get the color while the mini line goes without mention.

Per the report:

New versions of the company’s 9.7-inch iPads, anticipated to be unveiled this month, will include gold as a choice of color for the rear metal cover, adding to the silver and gray available for the lighter iPad Air, the people said, asking not to be identified ahead of an announcement. That brings the color palette into line with the iPhone 5s, which come with silver or gold backs for models with a white faceplate, and space gray for those with a black front.

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Gold is best – the combined jewelry box & charger you get with the Apple Watch Edition

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We don’t yet know the price of the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition, but it doesn’t require psychic powers to know that it isn’t going to be cheap. KGH analyst Ming-Chi Kuo’s prediction of the most expensive model costing “several thousand dollars” is probably exaggerated, but may not be quite as far-fetched as it seemed.

David Pogue shared one of the things Apple didn’t mention on stage but did reveal during press demonstrations afterwards …  Read more

Apple unveils its first Gold iPhone 5s TV video ad, ‘Metal Mastered’

Apple revealed its first magazine ads for the iPhone 5s this past week and they were gold, featuring the gold iPhone 5s. During today’s football games, Apple released its first TV ad with the same affinity for the ‘Midas model’.

The video above (via Verge) shows a similar video shown at the launch event with a quick demo of TouchID.

What conclusion can we draw from this?

Gold is best.

Update: Apple has added the ad to its website

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Chinese iPhone buyers desperate for gold turn to $2 stickers

The new gold color option for the iPhone 5s might be driving higher demand over the 5c in China, but for those unable to find or afford the more expensive model, gold stickers and skins have quickly become an inexpensive alternative. The Wall Street Journal reports that a long list of retailers in the country have started offering gold skins for the iPhone 5/5s, allowing users to give their iPhone a similar gold appearance for as little as $2.

“Dear, you don’t need to sell your kidney for the new iPhone,” one of the ads said.“Instead of paying 5288 yuan (the retail price of the 16-gigabyte iPhone 5S in China), you only need to spend 35 yuan to make your iPhone 5 look like a golden iPhone 5S in seconds.”

The report notes that online retailers through taobao.com have sold thousands of gold iPhone skins in less than a month, and there is certainly no shortage of similar options through Amazon and other online retailers.

The new gold iPhone is in limited supply at most retailers around the world, and even Apple’s own retail stores have had extremely limited supply of the model compared to other color options since the device’s launch on September 20.

As noted by WSJ, the gold iPhone 5s is considered somewhat of a status symbol in the country with local Chinese media often referring to the gold 5s model as “Tuhao Jin” or “local tyrant’s gold.” Read more