Apple fights for Ironman Crowd’s eyes with the Apple Watch Ultra, looking to beat Garmin

Meeting that long tail of dedicated users with a sports watch makes Apple the brand more consumers can’t resist.

In the seven years since Apple Inc. Its first release Apple Watch, the device has sold more than 100 million units, bringing it to 30% of the global smartwatch market. However, it has struggled to seize a small but important niche: endurance sports.

Check out the start of any Ironman triathlon and you’ll see Garmin Products that grip the wrist of the world’s most elite athletes. These are the consumers World Health Organization Spend $10,000 on a bike and travel the world to compete in some of the most luxurious courses in the world. But they have largely ignored Apple in favor of multi-sport watches from the first name in outdoor adventure and navigation.

The new Apple Watch Ultra that the company debuted at an event dubbed Far Out could finally change that. at $799, wearable It is the most expensive of the models launched on Wednesday, including the Apple Watch series 8 for $499 and Watch SE for $249. This puts it above most Garmin alternatives favored by triathletes, but it’s still cheaper than premium models designed for high-speed and rugged environments. The device can also act as a diving the computerwhich puts it in competition with the leading names in that category, such as Suunto, Cressi and Aqualung.

Hunting down consumers with expensive hobbies and high brand loyalty is a smart move, and the company appears to be laser-focused on pushing its non-iPhone products, the Watch and AirPods. Call wearable devicesAnd the residence and accessories (WHA), this category is the only hardware department in apple Have recorded continuous growth in each of the past six years. While WHA accounts for just 11% of sales, well below 53% for iPhone, revenue from this group of devices has increased 245% since 2016, compared to 40% for iPhones and 181% for services.

Increasing revenue is only half the story. Making the Apple ecosystem more addictive is much more profitable than just ensuring customers upgrade their iPhone every year (or two). Earbuds are a good example. Owning an iPhone is more likely to entice a customer to buy Airpods, and the same is also true in reverse – customers are less inclined to switch to Airpods. Samsung or OPPO If they already have AirPods and an Apple Watch.

It also takes the stress out of every new iPhone for a wow factor that forces fans to stand up all night for the latest accessory. This year’s edition, for example, is unlikely to stir hearts. A better camera, more powerful semiconductors, and eye-catching always-on displays look nowhere near the excitement of previous innovations like Touch ID, haptic feedback or Siri. that’s good.

Instead, Apple spent the launch event focusing on features that the vast majority of consumers won’t need, and very few will use. This includes fault detection on the watch and satellite SOS services on the iPhone. Despite heart-wrenching videos of customers relaying their experience of the life-saving features of the Apple Watch—one girl used it after a plane crash—safety probably isn’t a must-have aspect of consumer electronics.

However, by gradually expanding the categories of consumers who find a product that perfectly fits their unique needs, Apple is ensuring that cross-device connectivity is one of the things consumers rely on. “This kind of integration is something only Apple can do,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said at the launch event on Wednesday. And he’s right, which is why Apple will continue to be the brand customers just can’t handle.