S'pore to miss out on first bite of Apple Watch

The Apple Watch launches next month in nine markets - Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Britain and the US.

For the first time since the launch of the iPhone 5 in September 2012, Apple is giving Singapore a miss as the first port of call for the debut of a new product.

The Apple Watch launches next month in nine markets - Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Britain and the United States - all of which have Apple Stores operated directly by Apple, which has granular control over the sales process.

In Singapore, Apple products are sold through authorised resellers.

One reason for the omission may be that the smartwatch is in a new product category and Apple may want to "test the market" before launching it in all countries, said an industry observer here who did not want to be named.

A street poll of 60 consumers here found 85 per cent of them would not consider buying the Apple Watch, which starts from US$349 (S$482) for the entry- level Apple Watch Sport version with an aluminium body.

Many naysayers said the watch is pricey and not essential. Wealth manager Seow Shu Ming, 35, said: "I don't need it. I can just use my phone for the same functions.

"I also have my own fitness tracker, bought at a much lower price. It's a fad that will die out soon."

Banker Amanda Soon, 28, however, felt the entry-level version is affordable.

"Yes, I'll buy it for sure. It's new and interesting and the functions integrated into a watch are really useful," she said.

The mid-level stainless steel Apple Watch costs from US$549 to US$1,099. The high-end Apple Watch Edition, crafted from custom rose gold or yellow 18-karat gold alloys, is the most expensive and will cost at least US$10,000.

Watch expert Dominic Khoo, however, is sceptical about the worth of the device at that price.

High-end watches are valued for artisanship.

"People spend large amounts of money for the craftsmanship, not for cool functions, diamonds or timekeeping," said Mr Khoo, a former appraiser at watch auction house Antiquorum before he started The Watch Fund, a US$36 million watch investment fund, two years ago.

At this high level, watches with batteries are usually shunned.

"It's like paying a fortune for a quartz watch. And if you are buying a five-figure watch to show off, you are not quite there yet. You need to add at least another zero," said Mr Khoo.

But there is good news for Apple fans. The new MacBook will be available here when it launches globally on April 10.

The laptop sets a new benchmark with its minimalist design, and is one of the few mainstream laptops to weigh less than 1kg.

At 13.1mm thick, it is 24 per cent thinner than the current MacBook Air and sports a 2,304 by 1,440 pixel 12-inch screen. Being this thin, it has space only for a USB-C port - another first for mainstream laptops - for purposes like charging and data transfer.

Apple has also cut the price of media streaming device Apple TV by $40, to $108. New Internet streaming service HBO Now will be available exclusively on Apple TV, butonly in the US for now.


This article was first published on March 11, 2015.
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