Thoughts on Apple Watch and MacBook

So there’s been a lot of attention in the tech media, since Apple’s event, about the new MacBook and the Apple Watch. A lot of people still don’t seem to understand the philosophy behind the Apple Watch, and haven’t really thought about the pricing of the MacBook. I’ve been thinking about this, and here’s my opinion.

I got asked by a close friend, “what does the Apple Watch do exactly?”. I was a little thrown off by the question, and I thought for a second, and I just said, “It looks good.” He looked at me a bit funny and said that it’s a piece of technology, it has to do something. So I proceeded to tell him that obviously it does things such as allowing you to communicate in new ways and it’s a notification hub and it’ll be great for fitness and activity tracking and the such. But mainly, I had to emphasise that this is a fashion piece. It is designed first and foremost to look good, and sell based on that.

The biggest issue that gets brought up about the Apple Watch however, is its pricing. There’s no denying that it is an expensive item. Even for watches where, for example, my Tommy Hilfiger watch cost just over $350 before shipping from Ireland to Australia. For that price I couldn’t even get the Apple Watch Sport here, which I personally don’t find to be a very good looking piece. If I had my pick of Apple Watches, I would choose the 42mm Stainless steel with black classic buckle, which is a hefty $1,029 in Aus. But, looking at the bands by themselves, the Buckle is $229, which brings the price of the watch itself down to (a still significant) $800. $800 though is an amount I could see myself spending on a watch (I will admit my vanity and materialistic nature about such things). If I was to buy the Apple Watch, I would buy the stainless steel model as cheap as possible, then try to find a nice third party band that I could use instead of one of Apple’s. I think this is what Apple knew and in a way want their customers to do. Obviously they’d prefer they fork out their money to them, but they certainly won’t mind someone using a 3rd party band if it means them selling another $800 piece.

We cannot forget though, that this device is first and foremost a fashion piece, particularly the Stainless Steel and Gold versions. And in terms of fashion, $800 is not a huge amount of money. It’s obviously targeted at the upper class, but so are all luxury brands. I don’t see how this is such an issue for so many people.

Another issue I hear brought up a lot is how it will survive into the future. As has been noted a number of times, application processing is not done on the watch itself. It is offloaded to the iPhone instead to help battery life, and I think quite deliberately, to make sure that the watch remains powerful for years to come. Apple has also told us that the battery will be replaceable, which means that, perhaps, as battery technology improves, the battery life could be extended simply by taking the watch into your local apple store for a battery upgrade (pure speculation). In terms of new models being released every year, what I think will happen, will involve the first few years involving new collections being added to the line-up with only very modest upgrades to the existing collections. Then after the lineup has been consolidated, the upgrade cycle will begin, and the watch you buy may remain the most current for it’s price range and collection for a number of years to come. I also don’t expect the design to change significantly within the next 5 years. I personally think the general shape and size of the watch will stay the same for a significant period of time.

So they’re my opinions on the Apple Watch. But what about the MacBook?

Well. Let me start off by saying, I won’t be buying one of these simply because I don’t have enough money. And that’s not to say I don’t have enough money for the MacBook in particular, but to say I don’t have money for a new computer at all. If I did, I think I would buy the new MacBook, and here’s why.

I am currently at university doing an engineering double degree with mathematical and computer science. I currently have a late 2011 MacBook Pro which was bought fully specced and still runs programs like after affects and photoshop like a champ. And I love Mac OS X.

With the MacBook, I would be able to run Linux and Windows through bootcamp if I needed to, but I would mainly leave this up to my MacBook Pro. I would be able to easily use it in Lectures and Tutorials for note taking and quickly getting tasks done. And I have no doubt it will be one of the best laptops for watching the slew of TV shows and Movies that I spend about half my day watching.

Now the pricing. Here are the facts. This computer comes standard with a 12″ Retina Display, 256GB of PCI-E based flash storage and 8GB of RAM. Even if you choose the 11″ MacBook Air, which gives you a (slightly) smaller, and far lower resolution screen, and then upgrade it to the same 256GB of storage, and 8GB of RAM, the result is only $100 less than the new MacBook. Sure with the MBA you get a faster processor and GPU and you get more I/O, but you also get a relatively crappy, smaller screen and less portable laptop. If you jump up to the 13″ MBA, you literally pay the exact same price for the same storage and RAM config as you do with the new Macbook (admittedly, the MacBook does lose some battery life though).

So everybody saying that the new Macbook is overpriced really just hasn’t thought about it. It’s definitely not a cheap computer, I’m not trying to say that at all, but it is reasonably priced especially in comparison to the MBA.

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