Apple today introduced two new editions of its popular Apple Watch, offering new health features, for $399.
The top of the line Series 6 sells for $399, while a budget version called the SE, offering a faster processing chip than the older $199 Series 3 Watch, starts at $279. The watches will be available Friday.
Apple said the new Series 6 watch has a faster processing chip, and 2.5X brighter face that will make it easier to read in bright sunlight. A new health feature lets owners check their blood oxygen level from the Watch.
The SE has a slightly slower chip but includes all the health features, said Apple. The company will continue selling the older Series 3 from 2017 for $199.
The iPhone maker staged an online event to tout new fall products, but skipped on an update to the iPhone, which has been delayed until October. Apple is expected to launch four new editions of the iPhone next month.
Beyond the iPhone, the Watch has turned into a solid hit for Apple, selling as many as 31 million units in 2019, according to researcher Strategy Analytics.
That’s a fraction of the 197 million iPhones Strategy Analytics projected sold in 2019, and at a lower price point, but it’s still grown to a major profit center for Apple.
Strategy Analytics says Apple outsold the entire Swiss watch industry in 2019, which saw sales of just over 20 million watches.
In the smart watch category, Apple has less high-powered competition than it used to. Samsung launched its update to its Galaxy Watch on Sept. 10. Google doesn’t have a smartwatch, but instead has smartwatch software it calls WearOS. Many traditional watch manufacturers, including Casio and Fossil use WearOS. Google announced in November plans to acquire device maker Fitbit for $2 billion. The deal has yet to close.
The new Galaxy Watch is competitively priced with the latest Apple Watch, starting at $399 but is twice as expensive as an older edition of the Apple Watch that is still on sale at $199. Samsung sells the previous edition for $229.
“What they’re going after is new customers,” says Daniel Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities. “Or people who haven’t upgraded in 2 two years. They have to be careful not to do significant changes, given the success they’re seeing with the Watch.”
Apple also is using the event to tout new iPads.
The iPad line currently starts at an economical $329 for the entry-level model, with the Air in middle position between the cheapest and most expensive models. But the Air has looked “dated” according to the 9to5Mac blog, and giving it a “more modern look,” will help Apple competitively, the website says.
The iPad, first introduced in 2010, was a runaway hit initially, then cooled off. But in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the move to learning and working at home, the iPad has seen major growth.
In the most recent earnings, Apple said it sold $6.5 billion worth of iPads in the quarter, up from $5.5 billion in the year-ago quarter.
Apple has a lineup of four models, starting at $329 and ranging through to $799.
Rival tablets from Samsung and Amazon compete with the iPad. Samsung just announced new Galaxy tablets, the S7 and S7+, starting at $829 and $1,029, and has other models available starting at $149. The Amazon Fire tablets are more affordable, starting at $89.
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