Apple started pre-orders for its smartwatch on Friday in the
Chinese mainland, which experts believe will help create a bigger market for
smartwatches locally and worldwide.
Apple launched pre-orders for its new device, Apple Watch, in
nine countries and regions including the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong as
people in both places formed lines in Apple Stores on the first day of the
pre-order to try out the watches.
While pre-orders can be made online, Apple Stores around the
country showcased the new gadget which comes in three different versions – Apple
Watch, Apple Watch Sports and Apple Watch Edition. All three are available in
two sizes: 38 millimeters (mm) and 42 mm.
"The style and functions are just like what I saw on the TV ads
and I will probably buy one," Wang Yixuan, a 28-year-old man working in
advertisement, told the Global Times Sunday after he had a close look at the new
device at a Apple Store in Beijing.
"But it's just a bit expensive in the mainland," said Wang, a
devoted Apple fan.
The price of the Apple Watch Sport series in the mainland
starts at 2,588 yuan ($416), while in the US, the price starts from $349.
The price for the high-end Edition series which is coated in
18-karat gold ranges from 74,800 yuan to 112,800 yuan in the mainland.
Media reports claim that the Edition was sold out within an
hour on the Chinese mainland online store.
Calls to confirm the news and the number of pre-orders were
unanswered by Apple by press time.
The Sport and standard versions as well as six of the eight
models of the Edition series were still available for online pre-orders as of
Sunday evening in the mainland.
Apple has promised the Watch series will be shipped out from
April 24 but customers will have to wait at least six weeks for pre-orders made
on Sunday, the company online store showed.
Analysts said Apple's new wearable device will likely boost the
overall wearable device industry in China, but it will not necessarily help the
sales of Apple's other devices.
As the new gadget can be used only with iPhones, the major
buyers would likely be Apple users and it might be less attractive to non–Apple
users, which means the launch of the smart timepiece is unlikely to boost the
sales of Apple iPhones, Wang Jun, a senior analyst at Beijing-based consultancy
Analysys International, told the Global Times on Sunday.
"Compared with other smartwatches available on the market, the
Apple Watch series offers better designs and more functions," Wang said. "It
will propel the development of other domestic companies."
Li Yi, secretary-general of China Mobile Internet Industry
Alliance, agreed with Wang.
"It's not that the market is nonexistent but the release of the
Apple Watch will create a bigger market and Chinese companies can take advantage
of it," Li told the Global Times on Sunday.
Chinese companies such as Huawei and Lenovo and global
companies like Samsung and Sony have so far failed to release a clear-cut hit
with their respective smartwatches.
Meanwhile, the wearable devices market is set to see strong
growth in 2015.
In a report on March 30, US market intelligence firm
International Data Corporation (IDC) forecast 45.7 million units to be shipped
out, rising 500 percent from the previous year's 19.6 million shipments, partly
due to the release of Apple Watch.
Of the estimated 45.7 million shipments of wearable devices in
2015, Apple Watch will take up 15.9 million, according to IDC.
"Chinese companies will have more chances because customers
will want to have more choices," Li said.
"So domestic companies can offer various options in prices,
brands and operating systems now that there is a bigger market," he