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Watch Out: Apple Watch Set To Disrupt Wearables Market With Hot Features, Massive Sales

Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed further details about the company's long-anticipated wearable, Apple Watch, during a launch event in San Francisco.

Apple CEO Tim Cook spotlighted several pivotal features of the Apple Watch -- the new smartwatch solution providers expect will drastically change the wearables market -- during a live launch event Monday in San Francisco.

The smartwatch, which will be available April 24 with preorders beginning April 10, pioneers the wearables industry through its groundbreaking connectivity features, such as a built-in speaker and microphone for calls, instant social media and email notifications, and Digital Touch, a tool allowing users to send a quick sketch or message to other Apple smartwatch users, Cook said.

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"Apple Watch brings a whole new personal dimension to time-keeping that's never been done before," said Cook. "It's a revolutionary way to connect with others. Right from your wrist, you can receive messages ... you can also use the built-in speaker and microphone [to] receive calls on your watch."

[Related: Partners: Expect Revolutionary Apple Watch Details From Monday's Event]

Apple Watch, first unveiled in September, will be available in 38mm and 42mm sizes, as well as multiple materials, including aluminum, stainless steel, 18-Karat gold and 18-Karat rose gold. Prices range from $349 for the aluminum sports model to more than $10,000 for the gold, high-end model.The battery charge will last about 18 hours, the company said.

But beyond the watch's exterior features, partners stressed that the new wearable device has the potential to transform how customers access and look at information, which will become instantaneously available on end users' wrists.

"I think the real value [of the Apple Watch] is around instantaneous access to information," said Jeff Dettloff, president and CEO of Providence Consulting, a Lansing, Mich.-based Apple partner. "With the watch it's continuous, you can get streaming information a few seconds here and there. It's just accelerating accessed information without having to reach into your pocket."

The idea of quick, instant information is best encapsulated in a new feature on Apple Watch called "Glances," which allows users to quickly and easily check messages, schedules and other notifications.

Like many other wearables on the market, the Apple Watch also includes comprehensive health and fitness features, including workout apps and heart rate tracking, as well as thousands of other apps developed via its app interface, WatchKit.

Cook also said Apple Pay, Apple's mobile payment system unveiled in September, will be available on Apple Watch, allowing users to pay with the wearable device in certain retail outlets.

Analysts have high hopes for the sales of the groundbreaking wearable, with a recent study by market research firm Strategy Analytics forecasting 15.4 million Apple Watch units will be sold in 2015, accounting for 54.8 percent of the total smartwatch market.

"This is jewelry ... it's as personal as it gets," said Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, a tech analyst firm based in Austin, Texas. "While you can put your phone in your pocket, the Apple Watch will be front and center all the time. I think it will pull user experiences together without getting in the way of interacting with others."

The Apple is not the first systems company to enter the smartwatch market: it follows a bevy of vendors such as LG, Samsung and Motorola. However, analysts predict that Apple's loyal fan base, as well as its broad variety of watch types, will help the wearable entice a wide range of interested customers.

"Apple is offering many different styles of watches ... this is by far the broadest line of watches with the highest diversification," said Moorhead. "These watches will attract different types of consumers while also offering various price points, so there will be some crossover with people who aren't necessarily tech-savvy."

While solution providers had mixed expectations of the channel opportunities around Apple Watch, they applauded the implications of the new wearables for Apple's success as a whole.

"In the traditional channel, I think there's little opportunity," said Michael Oh, CEO of Tech Superpowers, a Boston-based Apple solution provider. "I don't know if we can sell it ourselves. It may be the same with the iPad, where there are really low margins relative to the Mac sales, and little that we can monetize. But I still think the launch is important as a channel partner. Even if the product isn't in the channel's ecosystem, it will still bring Apple to the next level, and we'll see that in our iPhone and iPad services."

In addition to new features of the Apple Watch, Apple Monday introduced a new redesigned 13.1mm-thin MacBook, available in gold, silver and "space gray," with all-metal enclosure and an all-new keyboard with individual LEDs under each key for full illumination. The device will have a 12-inch Retina display.

Apple also unveiled a new partnership with HBO to utilize Apple TV as a launch pad for HBONow, HBO's new streaming service that provides access for $14.99 a month, and a software framework ResearchKit, which allows researchers to easily create apps that facilitate health-tracking research methods for diseases like Parkinson's disease and breast cancer.


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