9 Sep 2014

Can Apple’s ‘two sizes fit all’ watch make customers tick?

For a company famous for its slick product launches, tonight’s event began – online at least – as a disaster.

Viewers tuning in to Apple’s own live web coverage were confronted with a test card for the first 10 minutes of the press conference. And when the pictures finally kicked in, they had what sounded like a Japanese voiceover in the background.

If you listened really hard, you may have been able to hear Steve Jobs, the acknowledged master of the product demo, spinning in his grave.

Once they’d sorted out the problems, we got to see the goods. A new iPhone, available in two sizes and able to make contactless purchases. (Cue earnest security reassurances – this, after all, is the company caught napping when celebrities’ Apple back-up accounts were hacked last week).

Apple Unveils iPhone 6

But it was the watch (pictured) that had the audience on their feet. Apple are hoping it will become, like the iPad, a new experience in how we interact with technology, enabling us to receive calls, take pictures and manage apps, all without rummaging in our pockets for our phones.

But the very fact that it’s something we wear makes the watch a risky prospect, and more risky for Apple than any other tech manufacturer. Apple make lovely products, but only one at a time. Don’t like the iPhone? Tough, there’s no other model available.

That works when it comes to phones that we keep tucked in our pockets and bags, but will it work for watches that are, ultimately, very personal jewellery choices as much as they are piece of technology.

Smart watches made by other companies have hardly flown off the shelves and have been criticised for being ugly. Will enough people desire Apple’s watch and put up with the fact that there’s only one choice of style? We’ll soon find out.

If so, let’s hope the firm’s supply chain proves more robust than its live webcasts.

Follow @geoffwhite247 on Twitter