Apple's failed fashion gamble

When the first Apple Watch was unveiled, it was clearly positioned as a fashion accessory. But in less than 18 months, it has transitioned into a fitness device.

Apple Watch Series 2

Apple Watch Series 2 (Image: Apple)

Is it my imagination -- or has Apple made a huge pivot with the Apple Watch?

Cast your mind back to when the original Apple Watch -- now called Apple Watch Series 1 - was unveiled in April 2016 and recall how the unveiling looked and felt more like a fashion event.

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Bumping shoulders with the usual crew of tech journalists were writers from the fashion magazine industry. Tech writers had to familiarize themselves with brands such as Hermès (and learn to get the accent on the è just right so as not to come across as boorish). Apple was so determined to take the fashion path that it secured a 12-page spread in Vogue.

And, why not? Because the top-end, solid-gold Edition version of the Apple Watch would set you back a cool $17,000.

Fast-forward to yesterday's unveiling of the Apple Watch Series 2, and the fashion element was all but gone. There's no crazy-expensive Edition version of the Series 2 (white ceramic has apparently replaced gold, at a price of $1,249), and there didn't seem to be any fashion writers interested in the event.

All that remains of the fashion heritage of the Apple Watch are the reassuringly expensive Hermès bands.

The new Apple Watch is a device that's primarily focused on fitness, and that makes sense given that four out of the five top wearable vendors make fitness devices and not smartwatches. The only one in the listing that makes smartwatches is Apple (at No. 3), and there are no Android Wear makers in the listing.

Apple's failed fashion gamble

The fitness market is what's propping up the wearables market, and consumers don't seem to be all that interested in smartwatches beyond the Apple Watch.

So, Apple's pulled the plug on its fashion industry aspirations, and rather than appeal to people with $17,000 to put down for a watch, has instead aligned itself with Nike to bring out a custom Nike+ branded Apple Watch.

That makes a lot more sense.

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