Apple executives have discussed charging around $400 for the company’s new wearable device.
Pricing has yet to be finalized for the forthcoming product, which is expected to begin shipping next year. Sources say consumers should expect a range of prices for different models including lower-priced versions.
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It is not immediately clear if the price will be settled in time for Apple’s Sept. 9 press conference when it is expected to introduce the new iPhones and announce a wearable device. Apple declined to comment.
The introduction of a wearable product would mark Apple’s first entry into a new device category since the 2010 introduction of the iPad. As with tablets, Apple aims to redefine an existing, albeit young, category currently populated by Jawbone and Fitbit, which make fitness bands, and other smartphone makers Samsung, LG, Motorola and Timex, which have waded into the burgeoning smartwatch business.
The prices under discussion would put Apple’s device at the high end of the category with Samsung’s Gear 2 Silver smart watch costing about $300 and Google-powered devices fetching around $200. Timex’s upcoming Ironman One GPS+ watch carries a $400 price tag and comes with its own 3G wireless connection.
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook acknowledged the competition a year ago, when he spoke at the D: All Things Digital Conference. But he said he also felt wearables held promise.
“There are lots of gadgets in this space right now, but there’s nothing great out there,” Cook said last year. “But none of them are going to convince a kid that hasn’t worn glasses or a band to wear one … There are a lot of problems to solve in this space. … It’s ripe for exploration. I think there will be tons of companies playing in this space.”
Researcher IDC expects the wearable computing market will more than triple this year, compared with the prior year, as the devices grow more stylish and functional. It forecasts shipments will exceed 19 million units in 2014 — with the global market swelling to 111.9 million wearables in four years.
Traditionally secretive Apple has said little about an entry into the wearable space, though it has hinted at its application in health and fitness and home automation.
Apple unveiled HomeKit and HealthKit at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June. These features of the upcoming iOS 8 mobile operating system can be used to control connected devices in the home, such as electronic door locks, and for storing health and fitness information about an individual’s heart rate, calories burned and blood pressure.
The timing of the software announcement provides developers the opportunity to create products and applications that would be compatible with the next-generation Apple products.