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Apple Sets Watch Prices, Ship Dates

San Francisco – Apple’s first smart watch will be available April 24 in the U.S. at prices ranging from $349 to more than $10,000 for models in solid 18k gold.

With the launch, multiple analysts forecast that Apple will sell more Apple Watches in their first nine months of availability than all other smartwatches combined in 2014.

The Apple Watch Sport collection will be available starting at $349 for the version with 38-millimeter face and $399 for the 42-millimeter version. They come in gray or silver anodized aluminum case with choice of sports bands.

The starting price point for the Apple Watch collection will be $549 to $1,099 for the 38-millimeter version, with the 42-millimeter versions costing $50 more. They feature silver or black stainless-steel case and a hardened sapphire-crystal display.

The limited-quantity Apple Watch Edition will feature 18-karat rose gold or yellow gold case starting at more than $10,000.

Each collection, or style, is available with 38mm and 42mm face sizes, choice of finishes, and multiple bands, allowing for dozens of combinations. Strap options include leather, stainless-steel link, stainless-steel mesh and elastomer, among many others. All feature 18-hour battery for “typical” use.

The watches connect to an iPhone via Bluetooth but, if outside of Bluetooth range, via Wi-Fi at home.

CEO Tim Cook also announced that thousands of new Apple Watch apps have been created since the WatchKit SDK was released last November. An app, for example, lets users remotely open garage doors from the watch. Users can also view security-camera video. Another app automatically displays an airline boarding pass when you get near an airport and lets you scan the pass to get on board. Hotel reservation information, such as reservation number, also pops up as you get near the hotel. The watch also turns into a room key when waved in front of a door at a participating hotel.

Only 5 million smart watches were sold last year, Strategy Analytics said, and Futuresource Consulting estimates that a little more than 6.1 million were sold. Strategy Analytics, however, forecasts that 15 million Apple Watches will be sold in the first nine months of availability, while Piper Jaffray estimates 8 million will be sold and Forrester Research forecasts 10 million will be sold. Apple sold around 5 million iPhones in their first nine months and almost 15 million iPads in their first nine months.

Apple’s success will mean Motorola and Samsung will lose their top market share. A company called 1010data, which tracks what consumers buy online, found that for the three months ending February, Motorola’s dollar share was 26.6 percent, followed by Samsung’s 25.1 percent, Pebble’s 15.7 percent, LG at 11.3 percent, Asus at 4.5 percent, and Sony at 3.1 percent.

In units, the top sellers were the Pebble Smartwatch, Samsung Gear, and the Motorola Moto 360.

Like other smart watches, the Apple Watch offers multiple functions. “In the absence of one killer application, vendors are throwing all the features from a smartphone in to the watches to see what sticks,” said Futuresource Consulting. “This is having obvious effects on the size, aesthetics and the battery life of the smartwatches. But compared to other wearable solutions, smartwatches benefit from being generally unobtrusive, they have low barriers for consumer acceptance, are secure, and can be worn 24/7 in any location.”

Thinnest MacBook: In other announcements, the company also unveiled its first MacBook with full-size keyboard and priced it at $1,299 to start with a $1,599 step-up option. They’re due April 10. The $1,299 model features 1.1GHz Intel Core M processor with 8GB internal memory and 256 flash drive. It is also Apple’s first notebook with all-metal chassis.

The device also features 12.1-inch Retina display with more than 3.3 million pixels, all-metal case, all-day battery (or up to nine hours of Wi-Fi wireless web browsing), and edge-to-edge keyboard and display. It’s also the company’s lightest notebook ever at 2 pounds, and it’s the thinnest as 13.1mm at its thickest point, or 24 percent thinner than its predecessor with 11-inch screen.

It uses an Intel Core M processor running up to 1.3GHz and, when turbocharged, up to 2.9GHz. It’s Apple’s first product with single USB-C connector, and it supports USB, Display Port, HDMI, VGA, and power through a single connector.

More news: In addition, the company:

* upgraded other notebooks;

* will bring full HBO service, called HBO Now, along with past HBO programs to Apple TV, iPhones and iPads beginning in early April for $14.99/month;

* cut Apple TV’s price to $69 from $99;

* expanded the number of banks accepting ApplePay to more than 2,500 from a launch number of six and tripled the number of retail locations accepting it since s launch to almost 700,000 in the U.S. That includes about 40,000 Coca Cola vending machines, growing to 100,000 by year’s end;

* said every major car brand has committed to CarPlay and that more than 40 new models shipping by the end of the year will have the smartphone-connectivity technology; and

* said it sold more than 700 million smartphones globally.

Related: Analysts See Apple Watch Gaining Top Share Despite Price

Apple Watch: 15 Things We Knew In Advance

History Of The Smart Watch

Some Recent Smart Watches That Will Take On The Apple Watch

What Would Steve Jobs Think Of The Apple Watch?

Executive Insight: Traditional Watches and Smartphones on a Collision Course
By James Edwards, Futuresource Consulting

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‘HBO Now’ To Launch Exclusively On Apple Devices