Was a high price tag the critical component missing from Google’s Android Wear sales strategy? If recent reports from Tag Heuer are any indication, apparently consumers were concerned that these new wearable tech pieces weren’t expensive enough.
Bloomberg is reporting that the Louis Vuitton owned brand completely underestimated the demand for their new Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch, which is clad in Titanium and Sapphire and powered by Google’s OS. It’s a sexy watch body and a rubber strap with a price tag starting at $1500. It’s aiming above the mid-range pricing for Apple’s steel and sapphire smartwatch.
We’ve seen a number of tech companies trying to solve the fashion problem of strapping tech to your wrist. Offerings from LG, Huawei, and Motorola have failed to find significant traction beyond the tech fans already buying into the Android ecosystem however.
The thing we geeks never seem to understand though, is the idea of style which a consumer might be willing to pay more for. Apple is one of the few tech companies managing this transition from “Geek” to “Chic” as they morph into a lifestyle brand. The Apple Watch was years late to the smartwatch game, but easily overtook the market in its first year of existence.
We geeks might rant about the technology in competing watches being overly similar when comparing processors and screen resolution. If two gadgets have the same guts, shouldn’t they have the same price? I’ve gotten into visceral arguments with people using that argument, dogmatically ignoring things like build quality. Sure, two tablets might have the same processor, RAM, and storage. Though when one tablet is made out of plastic, and another is made out of injection molded magnesium, we should expect a price difference.
Again, we see this toxic “worth it” discussion coming from the techies. “It doesn’t do enough for the price.” “It’s not worth it for the monies.” “I would buy it if it magically read my mind, did my dishes, walked my dog, and only cost a half a ham sandwich.”
Watches though aren’t really technology products anymore. They used to serve a very practical purpose, at a glance delivery of the time, but now are fashion statements. No amount of functionality will convince someone to strap one on if it clashes with their sense of style. In this day and age, the label on the product often helps define what that style is.
Tag Heuer expected production of 1200 watches a week would be sufficient to meet demand. They’re so far behind that even after ramping up production to 2000 units a week, they don’t expect that they’ll be able to re-open online sales until May or June of 2016. It’s overly cynical to suggest that people just waited until they had a higher price tag to throw money at a product. When showing off an expensive fashion product, the Tag Heuer name carries a lot more recognition from peers than the Huawei name. That kind of “exclusivity” isn’t particularly valued by people looking to make a statement.
Fitness trackers are flourishing, people understand their function, it’s hip to be improving your health, and people can overlook the gym style as there’s no expectation that you’ll wear a Fitbit with a pair of slacks or a suit.
Did Android Wear just need the name? Does the Louis Vuitton company have the reputation to start carving out a more legitimate niche for wearables?