The Apple Watch and Moore’s Law

Back in October, Jean-Claude Biver, president of LVMH’s watch division (makers of high end brands such as TAG Heuer and Hublot), had this to say about the Apple Watch:

“A smartwatch is very difficult for us because it is contradictory,” said Mr. Biver. “Luxury is supposed to be eternal … How do you justify a $2,000 smart watch whose technology will become obsolete in two years?” he added, waving his iPhone 6.

Jean-Louis Gassée, writing for Monday Note:

At the medium to low end, the impact of Moore’s law was nearly lethal. Smartphone cameras have become both so good and so convenient…that they have displaced almost all other consumer picture taking devices.


The biggest question is, of course, Moore’s Law. Smartphone users have no problem upgrading every two years to new models that offer enticing improvements, but part of that ease is afforded by carrier subsidies (and the carriers play the subsidy game well, despite their disingenuous whining).

There’s no carrier subsidy for the AppleWatch. That could be a problem when Moore’s Law makes the $5K high-end model obsolete. (Expert Apple observer John Gruber has wondered if Apple could just update the watch processor or offer a trade-in — that would be novel.)

We’ll see how all of this plays out with regard to sales. I’ll venture that the first million or so AppleWatches will sell easily. I’ll certainly buy one, the entry-level Sports model with the anodized aluminum case and elastomer band. If I like it, I’ll even consider the more expensive version with a steel case and ingenious Marc Newson link bracelet — reselling my original purchase should be easy enough.

Regardless of the actual sales, first-week numbers won’t matter. It’s what happens after that that matters.

I have a different set of expectations for a watch than I do for my iPhone. Fair or not, I expect my watch to last forever, or until it breaks beyond a reasonable cost of repair. I think it is key that Apple find a way to keep my first generation Apple Watch usable longer than my first generation iPhone. Perhaps that’s just old school thinking.