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April 10, 2015

Apple fans show mild interest in gawping at new smart watch

In 2005 when a new branch of IKEA opened in Edmonton, North London, shoppers were so desperate to get in that several people were crushed and one unfortunate soul was stabbed.


Apple fans, despite their reputation for being brain-washed hyped-up evangelists, are clearly a more civilised bunch, or maybe the prospect of gawping at a smart watch you can’t yet buy is not as exciting as the chance to buy a bedside table made of weathered teak, because the crowds have not exactly been flocking to Apple stores to look at the much ballyhooed Apple watch.


Reports suggest that some two dozen people were queuing outside Apple’s store in Sydney this morning when the shop opened; Starbucks probably gets more than that when it opens it doors, and that’s despite the dreadful quality of its massively overpriced coffee.


The story was much the same in China, where people take their bling seriously.


The new Apple watch is not due to go on sale on 24 April but you can view it in Apple shops, and order it online.


The reviews are out, and they are a bit mixed.


On the one hand, it looks really cool, as one might expect, though it is not exactly dainty.


On the other hand, the device has a steep learning curve and the technology may not yet be ready for prime time.


Early reports suggest that Apple's sales people will have their work cut out to demonstrate all of the capabilities of the watch in a short demo session in a shop, with the reviewer in the New York Times saying it took him "three long, often confusing and frustrating days" for him to get to grips with the watch, but once he did, he loved it.


As is the way these days, a mobile device lives and dies by the apps that are available for it, and in the Apple watch's case there are plenty - maybe too many.


Focus so far has been on the fitness apps - in the new technological age smart watches are no more about telling the time than smartphones are about making phone calls - and these seem, by and large, to have got the thumbs up.


The hardware, though, is getting a rougher time of it from reviewers, with critics carping about battery life, response time.Technology review site Cnet summed up the sceptical view, with reviewer Scott Stein concluding: “You don’t need an Apple Watch. In many ways, it’s a toy.”


The glass-half-full crowd counter that, of course you don't need it but, because it is from Apple, you will want it.Even the hard-bitten investment analysts are in a quandary over how well the device will fare.


SocGen, which downgraded Apple shares yesterday from 'buy' to 'hold', reckons Apple could shift 8mln watches this year and 19mln next year but concedes "actual results could be much higher or lower".



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