Still confused about how the Apple Watch came about, what it is, and what it means for Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) stock? Then this timeline of key Apple Watch events, both past and present, is for you.
Headlines carrying rumors of an Apple wearable device go back years. But it wasn't until February 2013, when Bloomberg reported that the tech giant had "a team of 100 product designers working on a wristwatch-like device," that the hyper-active Apple rumor mill began to take the device seriously. The media dubbed the rumored device the iWatch, and speculation about the company's foray into wearable tech hit a new all-time high.
But when would Apple finally take the wraps off this product? The first reliable prediction came from Re/code's John Paczkowski last August.
Remember back in June when I said Apple hoped to schedule a special event in October to show off a new wearable device? Remember how I also said this: "Could things change between now and fall? That's certainly possible." Turns out that was a prescient hedge, because things have changed. Apple now plans to unveil a new wearable alongside the two next-generation iPhones
Re/code predicted the device would debut on September 9.
On September 9, 2014, Apple showed off the Apple Watch for the first time during a keynote. Following the announcement of Apple's iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, the device stole the show. After playing the unveil video for the new device, Apple CEO Tim Cook received a standing ovation. Apple had just announced its first new product for a new category since the launch of the iPad in 2010.
Some of the key takeaways during the event were the watch's starting price of $349 and a host of tech specs, including the invention of a "digital crown" to make interacting with the interface easier, the device's "Taptic Engine," the S1 processor, a new way of communicating called "digital touch," and the inclusion of an accelerometer, a heart rate sensor, Bluetooth, and the ability to tap into an iPhone's GPS and Wi-Fi.
Launch dates scheduled and final specs revealed
Last month, during Apple's watch-focused Spring Forward event, Apple revealed most of the final specs for the Apple Watch, answering key questions about battery life, pricing, and availability.
The battery would last about 18 hours, and pricing for the three tiers of Apple Watch started at $349 for the sport model, $549 for its stainless steel version, and a whopping $10,000 for its 18-karat gold edition watches.
As for availability, Apple announced 2 key dates:
- April 10: Apple Watch became available for pre-order, try-on, and display in Apple stores and department store shop-in-shops in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S. After pre-orders began, the ship dates for Apple Watch quickly slipped to June.
- April 14: Apple Watch deliveries will begin in the same countries where customers could pre-order on April 10. The device is also supposed to go on sale at Apple stores and pop-up Apple locations in select department stores. But if ship dates for Apple Watch models of June or later are any indication of what in-store availability will look like on launch day, taking home an Apple Watch on April 14 that wasn't pre-ordered may be difficult or even impossible.
Shortly after Apple's Spring Forward event, it launched a "guided tours" section on its website where it thoroughly explains the features of Apple Watch in a series of videos.
First weekend sales and Q2 financial results
If Apple carries over its practice of announcing first-weekend iPhone sales to its Apple Watch launch, investors may get their first hard figure for Apple Watch sales on April 27, the Monday following the first weekend of Apple Watch deliveries. Of course, the delivery figure would be a reflection of supply -- not demand -- since slipping ship dates indicate production constraints.
April 27 also happens to be the date of Apple's Q2 earnings call, so even if Apple doesn't reveal first-weekend deliveries for Apple Watch, management will likely give some insight into how well the product is being received by customers.
Even if the Apple Watch turns out to be a success, it's going to be difficult for the device to have a meaningful impact on Apple's business. With Apple raking in about $200 billion in revenue per year, it would have to sell about 17 million Apple Watch units in calendar 2015 at an average selling price of $600 to budge the tech giant's top line by just 5%.