The Wall Street Journal revealed tonight that many of the planned health features that Apple intended to include in its first-generation wearable were cut from the final product.
Early reports on the progress of the device’s creation indicated that it would boast an array of sensors for measuring many different facets of a wearer’s health, but when Apple demoed the first unit last year, those sensors were nowhere to be found.
Some of those features, like the ability to track stress and blood pressure, were simply too complex to institute, or ran the risk of triggering government regulation that the company wanted to avoid. In other cases, sensor makers weren’t able to meet Apple’s standards (not an uncommon phenomenon).
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The report says that the sensors for some features performed very inconsistently, with a host of unpredictable variables—ranging from tightness of the watch band to hairiness of the wearer’s arm—could lead to incorrect readings.
With some of the most interesting features now on the chopping block, the Journal claims that Apple’s executive team was left without much of a direction for the device and wondering what would draw customers to it.
What the team eventually settled on was the product hitting store shelves in April. It doesn’t boast as many impressive health-focused features as originally planned, and attempts to fill in the gaps by offering other attractions, such as heartbeat-based messaging and communication tools. Some of the simpler health features also made it into the finished product.
The report’s sources said that while these features were cut during the development of the first-gen model for a reason, there’s a possibility they could appear in later versions.
Another Journal report also notes that Apple is currently looking to manufacture 5-6 million units for the April launch:
Apple has asked its suppliers in Asia to make a combined five to six million units of its three Apple Watch models during the first quarter ahead of the product’s release in April, according to people familiar with the matter.
Half of the first-quarter production order is earmarked for the entry-level Apple Watch Sport model, while the mid-tied Apple Watch is expected to account for one-third of output, one of these people said.
Orders for Apple Watch Edition – the high-end model featuring 18-karat gold casing – are relatively small in the first quarter but Apple plans to start producing more than one million units per month in the second quarter, the person said. Analysts expect demand for the high-end watches to be strong in China where Apple’s sales are booming.
If the report is accurate, a 50%/33% split for the Apple Watch Sport and the Apple Watch would leaves 17% of the 5-6 million units—850,000 to just over 1 million—as gold Apple Watch Edition models. However, the Journal also repeats speculation that the gold watches could sell for $4,000 or more, which would make first-quarter sales of a million gold watches hard to achieve.