Sapphire Crystal Hinders Apple Watch Sales

According to the data compiled by NPD, U.S. watch sales fell to a seven-year low in June 2015.

Retailers sold $375 million timepieces during June, 11% less than one year ago. It is the worst decline since 2008, unit sales dropped 14 %. Release of the Apple Watch has impacted the timepiece industry and resulted in the recent decline.

However, as analyst Joe Wilcox described, it’s not the sales that determines the success of a product, but rather its return rate. Due to Apple’s refusal to reveal sales of Apple Watch, researchers and analysts are figuring out the numbers on their own. Research firms reported Apple sold approximately 4 million Apple Watches worldwide. Bloomberg estimated that Apple Watch’s average sales price is US$ 499. It’s believed Apple will benefit from the revenue generated from the sales, but is Apple Watch truly earning money for the company? 

Many users have shared their unbox experiences, with a few Apple Watch ideas surfacing. Among them are some concerning issues regarding the sapphire crystal that mounts onto Apple Watch.

Given that sapphire is an essential scratch resilient component used to protect luxury watches, there are several drawbacks.

1.      It’s expensive. As estimated, the average price of Apple Watch is around US$499, which is considered a luxury for accessories. If customers opt for a sleeker smartwatch, say, the steel model then it costs more, ranging from US$549 to US$ 1,099 for different colors and styles. The fairly expensive sapphire crystal, inevitably contributes its cost to the BOM, adding the selling price of Apple Watch.

2.      The sapphire crystal again is to be blamed for the difficulty of reading in bright sunlight. The Apple Watch Sport that uses Ion-X performs better under sunlight although it’s not as scratch-resistant or even scratch-proof compared to sapphire crystal.

According to DisplayMate’s study, the two models, when displayed side-by-side, there are striking differences in brightness. The Ion-X glass is 20% brighter than the one with sapphire, due to sapphire’s properties of less transmittance. Users have no choice when reading their Apple Watch under bright sunlight. The only way to compensate is adding brightness of the watch, although, doing so will require more power. Reflectance is a problem that Apple Watch needs to tackle.

Overall, Apple Watch has a bunch of issues regarding its fairly expensive sapphire crystal that causes reflectance and larger power consumption that require solutions. Meanwhile, Apple will need to assess the pros and cons of using sapphire crystal in Apple Watch.

(Author: Emma Chang, LEDinside)

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