Just like Christmas, Hanukkah and Chinese New Year have their fixed places on our calendars, Apple have become a regular addition to events we look forward to each year (or in their case, actually twice, three, four times a year).
Friday, the 24th of April 2015, was one of these hotly anticipated dates. After years of teasing and taunting, Apple finally released the first batch of the Apple Watch onto public.
With price tags of £299 for the very basic model and up to a whopping £13,500 for the “ultimate bling accessory” 18-karat gold edition (which come with fancy VIP perks), Apple isn’t beating around the bush and staying true to its pricing strategy. And it seems that price really isn’t an issue when it comes to tech geeks and Apple fanboys.
Business Insider reported that 957,000 units were sold in the US on the first day of pre-orders at the beginning of April. According to the Telegraph, the total initial run was in the region of 3 million units. However, it is predicted that Apple will ship in the region of 15.4 million units by the end of 2015 (CNET).
While it allows you to screen calls and messages with a flick or your wrist and making away with the need to scramble through your handbag or trying to get it out of your skinny jeans, it is important to understand that the Apple Watch is not just an extension to the iPhone but with its new functions presents a new platform for brands and businesses to enhance the customer experience as well as engage with them.
But what does it mean to the tourism and travel industries? Well…
- The Apple Watch was launched initially in 9 countries: US, UK, Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong and Japan (Most of these are key inbound markets for Scottish and Edinburgh Tourism…just saying!).
Among the first 3000 apps which are already available for the Apple Watch are a number of the big tourism and travel companies as well as lessor known ones which are banking on this new platform for their big break.
- At the forefront are the big hotel chains. Mariott will allow members of their Mariott Rewards programme to check-in and out via the watch.
- Apple Watch users at select Starwood properties will be able to not only check-in but also go straight to their room as soon as they arrive as the watch will double up as a room key. Guests will also be able to communicate directly with the property through the watch.
- IHG is focusing on lifting the language barriers for their guests with their Translator App which allows them to ‘travel like a local’. Reminiscent of David Hasselhoff and a certain talkative black sports car, all you have to do is speak directly into the watch which will then provide real-time translations in one of 13 languages.
- Taking location-based services to the next level, Tripadvisor is adding a temporal dimension and proposes to “help users discover nearby points of interest based on the person’s location (using GPS) and time of day”, such as the highest-rated restaurant close to your current location at lunchtime.
- The Trainline will give you directions to your nearest railway stations, tell you when your next train will depart as well as the platform from which it will depart. It will also keep you up-to-date with the live progress of your train and arrival times. Watch and Learn.
- JiTT – Just in Time Tourist enables users to plan their own tours around a city based on their interest and time available. JiTT will figure out the best route for you and give you access to audio guides bases on ‘content written and overseen by the highest standard of historians and culture writers’.
- Those who like to log and track their locations can do so with new start-up Polarsteps. By tapping on the watch it automatically logs the location of the user. Plotting your route on a map in real time, it also allows you to upload photos and stories for specific locations, which can then be shared with one’s social networks. The technology they use apparently has a minimal effect on battery life of the devices for those who are worried about iPhone and watch running out of juice.
- Airlines such as British Airways, Easyjet , American Airlines have also jumped onto the bandwagon with Apple Watch friendly apps.
Read this travel blogger’s first hand account of using the Apple Watch for the first time: My Thoughts on Traveling w/ the Apple Watch and its Travel Apps
So what do you think – will the watch change the way people travel? Is it for you? Or is it just another (expensive) fad? Let us know @ETAG_UK?
We are waiting to hear from you, tick tock, tick tock…