As we turn the page to March and a long-overdue spring season for New Yorkers such as me, there's a general theme of renewal and new growth that parallels the current state of affairs at tech giant Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). More specifically, Apple's long-awaited new product, the Apple Watch, is nearing its April launch.
As the media world has aptly noted, Apple will hold an event next Monday to, among other things, sing the praises of the product many hope will bring the smartwatch industry into the mainstream. So as we throttle toward Apple's Watch event, here are three key storylines investors and tech enthusiasts will want to watch on Monday.
"Developers, developers, developers." This phrase will live in tech infamy thanks to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but developers and the applications they've written are undoubtedly the most important aspect to watch during Monday's event. Although Apple's recent PR blitz would like us to believe otherwise, the Watch's actual value proposition to consumers remains far from clear.
That's understandable to an extent, as Apple waited until after it initially announced the Apple Watch to release its developer kit, dubbed WatchKit, to the tech community. Now with a few months passed, the potential software offerings powering the Watch should be vastly more robust and, hopefully for Apple, impressive. At its best, the Watch, thanks in no small part to Apple's robust developer network, will be another iPad or iPhone, a product we didn't know we even needed until we saw it. However, much of the quasi-gimmicky functionality, like the ability to draw and send pictures to friends, has me far from convinced that the Watch will move the technological needle enough to justify parting with hundreds or even thousands of dollars. It'll be Apple's job to convince the public otherwise on Monday.
And speaking of which ...
Apple Watch Edition. Source: Apple.
We know the most affordable version of the Apple Watch will start at $349. However, there's little real sense about how the pricing scheme for different versions and band combinations will influence the pricing across all three Apple Watch models.
Rumor has it that Apple plans to test the upward bounds of its own "cushy" pricing strategy with some of the more expensive versions of the Watch. Many believe the 18-karat gold versions of the Apple Watch Edition will compete for the illustrious title of "most expensive Apple product ever," with some reasonable predictions calling for a price tag of $10,000 at for the Watch's most pricey models.
From an investor's perspective, getting a sense of the Watch's overall pricing curve will prove tremendously important in modeling out the potential revenue the Watch will make for Apple investors in the months ahead. The Apple Watch will likely remain a drop in the bucket, financially speaking, for Apple in the year ahead, but the long-term potential of the smartwatch seems large enough to make an iPad-like impact for Apple. How Apple approaches dominating this growing market is a "must-watch" aspect of its presentation.
3. One more thing
Many sense Apple will use the event to also detail at least one non-Watch product. I recently detailed the rumored specs of a new-and-improved MacBook Air model, a refresh that still makes sense.
However, in recent days, a number of other Apple products have also been lumped into the discussion as possible candidates for some point at Apple's event. Among the more plausible nominees are the long-rumored iPad Pro, an improved TrackPad or Magic Mouse, or an Apple TV. Obviously, each of these products would have varying degrees of impact on Apple's overall financial prospects. Regardless, Apple only launches products a few times a year, making any item it includes in one of these events worth at least partial attention.
Time to deliver
As I've mentioned in the past, Apple Watch's success is arguably more symbolically important for Apple than financially, especially within its first year on the market. More importantly, Apple Watch will be the first new product category in which Steve Jobs' hand didn't guide the majority of its development.
Tim Cook, Jony Ive, and the rest of Apple's executive team badly need Apple Watch to be a hit, not only to continue to grow sales, but also to maintain the investing public's confidence that Apple's disruptive magic remains alive and well in the post-Jobs era.
The Apple Watch matters for a whole host of reasons, so make sure to check back with the Fool for all our coverage of Apple's special event this Monday.