Feature Request: It’s time for an official Apple Watch 2 Upgrade Program

Feature Request: It’s time for an official Apple Watch 2 Upgrade Program

If everything goes as planned, Apple is set to hold a spring event in March to introduce the Apple Watch 2 along with some other new hardware and software goodies. That’s only about a year after the original Apple Watch went on sale, but roughly 18 months since the first-gen model was actually announced.

As a mostly satisfied Apple Watch 1 customer, March or April doesn’t strike me as being too soon for the Apple Watch 2. Personally, I’m excited to see if the next model can handle apps better with a needed speed boost and maybe lose a little overall thickness and display bezel.

But while I’m basically already lining up to buy the next Apple Watch, I probably won’t spend the extra $200 on a stainless steel model this time if it’s is going to be an annual product upgrade. And for most Apple Watch customers, buying a new model will probably be an every 2 or 3 year event if that.

Apple Watch has a lot of opportunity to get better over the next few years, though, just like the original iPhone advanced dramatically between iPhone 1 to iPhone 4. A proper Apple Watch Upgrade Program could easily encourage current owners to buy the latest hardware every year (everyone using the latest generation helps the overall product’s reputation) and encourage new customers to splurge on higher-priced models. There would be other benefits as well …

When Apple Watch was first shown off in September 2014, the idea of upgradable internals was widely suggested. If you buy a $10,000 to $17,000 gold Edition model, should it really be technologically obsolete in just a few short years? My guess is if you can reasonably afford one Apple Watch Edition then the next one probably won’t be a big deal either.

But it’s the environmental impact and prospect of wasted materials on all models that convinces me that some method of upgrading the S1 chip to the S2 chip and so on is a good idea. Despite Apple being a relatively good citizen to the planet, Apple letting even an Apple Store Genius tinker with the internals of the Apple Watch as if it’s an old Mac Pro being upgraded just doesn’t seem likely at this point.

An official Apple Watch Upgrade Program, however, could help here, and the company has already created an infrastructure for something like it with the iPhone Upgrade Program introduced last September.

Apple Watch rose gold Watch Plate 2

Finance or lease a new Apple Watch every year, trade-in your old one to Apple and receive credit toward the new model, and put Apple in charge of an official market for very affordable, refurbished Apple Watches that don’t go to waste while responsibly recycling the bad parts.

You can even apply the concept of the Upgrade Program to any Apple product. My colleague Ben Lovejoy expressed interest in a potential version for the Mac, although with higher upgrade periods than 12 months, when I suggested an Apple Watch program. And I think it all lays the groundwork for a future Apple Car leasing program, something that’s already popular with other electric vehicles like Tesla and pricier traditional cars alike.

Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program is modelled similarly after what the major carriers started first, but it could even remove the financing angle for the Apple Watch and just make it a pure trade-in offer while still encouraging regular upgrades and incentivizing buying higher-end models.

What do you think? Would an official Apple Watch Upgrade Program encourage you to buy the latest version more often and possibly even a pricer model?

For Apple, selling more stainless steel models than aluminum models also means more opportunity for selling pricier second and third watch bands. Overall, I think the program is one worth investing in and something Apple is likely considering if not planning already. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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Apple’s Phil Schiller & Marc Newson kick off Apple Watch showcase in Milan (Gallery)

Apple’s Phil Schiller & Marc Newson kick off Apple Watch showcase in Milan (Gallery).

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iOS 8.4 beta moves audiobooks to iBooks app, dedicated CarPlay app

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How-To: Upload your photos into iCloud Photo Library from your iOS device and iCloud.com

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TESLA!

The self-driving future is almost here — if you’ve got one of Tesla’s Model S cars. Tesla CEO Elon Musk just announced that it’ll be bringing its new automatic steering mode, simply dubbed “autopilot,” to the Model S lineup in three to four months via a software update. Musk says you’ll basically be able to “go between San Francisco and Seattle without the driver doing anything.” He’s also careful to point out this isn’t true self-driving, just very powerful automatic steering (it was announced alongside the dual-motor Model S in October). The downside? It’s only available on highways, and it requires one of Tesla’s $4,250 “optional tech” package. Musk notes that the company’s current technology likely won’t be safe in suburban neighborhoods, which often have random obstacles like kids playing in the street. Eventually, you’ll be able to have your Model S park itself or drive up to you in a parking lot — just don’t expect to do that on public roads.

We’ve already seen plenty of car companies offer things like assisted parallel parking — an evolved form of cruise control seems like the next logical step. We’ll be interested to see how, specifically, the new autopilot mode works though. Actual self-driving cars from Google and others rely on a bevy of sensors that the Model S likely doesn’t have, even with the autopilot package, which is probably another reason autopilot won’t work in more populated areas. Tesla also unveiled two new software features today aimed at curbing range anxiety (without actually increasing the mileage on its Model S).

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Cook teases ‘ton’ of Apple Watch announcements, including Panera Bread, Salesforce enterprise & fitness apps

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Spring Is right around the corner

Apple Watch 'Spring forward' event

Apple has just invited several media outlets to a ‘Spring forward’ special event on Monday, March 9th. We’re sure to see a whole lot more of the Apple Watch at this event ahead of its April debut. The event will take place at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco.

Apple first unveiled the Apple Watch last September alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at De Anza College’s Flint Center in Cupertino near Apple’s headquarters. While the new iPhones were released later that month, Apple promised an “early 2015″ debut for its new product category.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has since said development for the Watch is on track for a release sometime in April.

Apple is expected to provide more information about the Apple Watch including specific pricing, availability, and additional demonstrations of software running on the device. The company has recently invited select developers to its Cupertino headquarters to finish work on Apple Watch apps and test the device in private ahead of its release.Apple Watch press

To date, Apple has only shared the $349 starting price for the Apple Watch, although it’s unknown how prices will vary between 38mm and 42mm models and the various collections.

The Apple Watch lineup is made up of three collections: Apple Watch Sport with aluminum casing, Apple Watch with stainless steel casing, and Apple Watch Edition with 18k gold casing. Based on materials, the stainless steel model is expected to be priced around $1,000 while many have speculated that the 18k gold and rose gold models will cost several thousands.

Aside from the Apple Watch, Apple has other products in the pipeline expected to debut this year including a 12-inch radically redesigned MacBook Air we revealed earlier this year, an overhauled music subscription service based on Beats Music, and several iOS versions under development.

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