Want a glimpse of the Apple Watch Series 9? Look no further than the Ultra

With the Ultra, Apple has taken a page from its now-familiar playbook on how to expand the appeal of mobile devices and applied it to its watch lineup.

  • Step 1: Introduce a solid version 1.0, but not fully realized yet.
  • Step 2: Refine, refine, refine.
  • Step 3: Create a “pro” version.

The Ultra is the first truly new Apple Watch variant to fill the “pro” slot since the first model was introduced in 2015. (I’m not counting the SE because it’s basically an older part that’s been remixed to fill the lower price point.) But the Ultra isn’t last. Step 3 is not the end.

  • Step 4: Add some “pro” features little by little.

Apple did it with the iPhone. — and iPad Air — pencil support! — but it’s not made of watches. Before the Ultra, materials were the only thing that differentiated each new model with each new series. In new markets, this kind of strategy works well because there is a lot of room to run. But the smartwatch market is nothing new now, and Apple needs a more fragmented strategy.

Join Ultra, Apple’s first attempt to segment the market based on features. Some people may appreciate the upgraded GPS and sports-focused features, but the real draw is the flashy titanium case, larger battery and international orange action. button.

Not all of Ultra’s new features will go downmarket, but I think action buttons will. Its practicality and potential are immeasurable, As my colleagues Brian and Kirsten discovered in their reviewMoreFor one thing, athletes love watches with buttons. Whether it’s running, biking, or cross-country skiing, there’s no substitute for a physical interface. Start recording run button to customize Run him workout. Then, when you enter your workout, you can record laps with subsequent presses.

Once developers start exploring the action button and develop new uses for it, it will almost certainly increase its appeal outside of endurance sports. Currently, the user cannot customize his secondary actions depending on the app. But things might change if Brian and Kirsten’s wishes are granted.

Apple has worked hard to build the fitness quintessence of the Watch, so stainless steel is too heavy for a sports-oriented watch, so the first non-Ultra models with action buttons will likely be aluminum models. prize. The case will probably be reworked to differentiate it from both the Ultra and the regular Apple Watch. It’s probably smarter and more like his Timex Ironman to Ultra’s G-Shock. The extra size gives the new model longer battery life than the regular model. After all, this is one reason why Apple improved the Ultra’s battery life. We were able to pack a larger battery into a larger case (49mm vs 45mm).

Of course, bigger watches aren’t for everyone. So the smaller 41mm size (40mm on the SE) still exists. However, larger watches have become popular among outdoor fitness enthusiasts. This is to allow for additional sensors, a brighter display, and several days of battery life. It’s a trade-off that many people with thin wrists have come to accept.

Combined, these new features could further strengthen the Apple Watch lineup. The Ultra stole the show this year, eclipsing a proper but expected update for the Series 8 (and iPhone 14). The Apple Watch, which is rich in new features, will probably get a lot of attention and sales.

With those changes, perhaps Apple plans to bring back the “Sport” moniker, a name that goes back to the original aluminum Apple Watch. History is important in the world of watches, and after seven years on the market, the Apple Watch finally has something to offer. It also conforms to Apple’s current naming conventions, which are straightforward and convey the quality of the product. “Air” is thin and light, “Pro” is faster and sleek, and “Ultra” is extreme. “Sport” is sporty and goes well with aluminum models for athletes.

These athletes may not necessarily be the same athletes that Ultra targets. They are more likely to run a half marathon than a full marathon, and tackle day hikes rather than thru hikes. Very fit, but not necessarily extreme for the sport they pursue. You may want to use some features at no additional charge. Is titanium worth more than aluminum? For some, yes. But for the majority, no.

The Sport’s return to the lineup allowed Apple to continue selling its regular aluminum and stainless models. Compared to the extroverted ultra and sports models, the company can position them as slim and dressy versions. It comes into use, but without the flashy accent colors.

Where would that leave the Apple Watch lineup? Ignoring inflation, we get:

  • Apple Watch SE – $199 (GPS only), $249 (GPS and cellular)
  • Apple Watch (aluminum) – $299 (GPS), $399 (GPS and cellular)
  • Apple Watch Sport – $499 (GPS and cellular)
  • Apple Watch (Stainless Steel) – $699 (GPS and Cellular)
  • Apple Watch Ultra – $899 (GPS and cellular)

Apple keeps Ultra at the top as its flagship. Its large size and outward-facing band help it stand out (both literally and figuratively) just like the iPhone Pro Max. The large case gives Apple room to experiment with new sensors. Otherwise, it might consume too much power or take up too much space to work with regular models, at least initially. Some of them will probably also become popular over time.

Apple has found a solid playbook it uses to scale its products in each of its competing market segments. There’s no reason not to do the same for the Watch. Now that Apple has found a way to market the Watch, first as a fitness device and second as a communication device, it has a solid footing to expand into new niches in the category. Reviving the Sport as a more affordable Ultra could help conquer yet another segment of the watch market.

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