When the Apple Watch reaches stores in April, it will seek to find the difficult middle ground between fashion accessory and technological Swiss Army knife, capable of performing a myriad of functions from the wrist.
Unveiled last September and touted in high-end glossy magazine spreads, the watch is expected to get its formal launch Monday at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco.
Key details have yet to be revealed — including prices for all three models. The Sport watch, which has a lightweight case and colorful athletic bands, will fetch $349. But the prices for the version that features a stainless steel case and a variety of leather bands, a link bracelet, or the woven “Milanese loop” have yet to be announced. The luxury 18-karat gold edition could go as high as $10,000, according to the Financial Times.
Another looming question is that of battery life. The Apple Watch, with its colorful screen and comparatively powerful processor, will require a daily charge, people familiar with the matter told Re/code last year.
Third-party developers have been working in secrecy at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., campus to create versions of their popular mobile apps to run on the wrist, including luxury car maker BMW, Facebook and United Airlines, according to a Bloomberg report. Starwood Hotels announced last fall it would allow guests to use their Apple Watches to open their rooms.
Fitness apps such as Strava, Nike+ and MapMyRun already work with the HealthKit feature that’s part of the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 8, so it’s likely you’ll see those apps on your wrist.
“I use mine in the gym all the time to track my activity level,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said last month at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference. “If I sit for too long it will actually tap me on the wrist to get up and move. A lot of doctors believe that sitting is the new cancer.”
Apple’s greatest challenge may not be outselling competitors in the wearable space — the first generation of Android smartwatches have gotten off to a sluggish start — but rather, convincing consumers to buy. Aside from price, the watch also needs to connect to an iPhone, limiting the market of potential buyers.
“That’s the question everyone is asking: How are they going to make the case that you need this product?” said Ben Bajarin, a consumer technology analyst for Creative Strategies.
Industry analysts and Wall Street investors are bullish on the watch, and Apple’s ability to energize a nascent consumer category. The company has done it before with the 2010 introduction of the iPad, which ignited the sleepy tablet business. Bajarin projects sales of 24 million units in the first year, or about 6 percent of the installed base of iPhones.
“While it remains early innings for wearables, and the jury is still out around the Apple Watch, we believe this could be a major game changer,” wrote FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives.
The stakes are high for Apple, which just gained entry into the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index, pushing longtime partner AT&T out of the lineup. Apple’s stock has jumped 68 percent in the past year, compared with the DJIA’s 9.3 percent.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.