Published On: Wed, Sep 10th, 2014

Apple product launch raises big unanswered questions

AppleApple's fall product launch on Tuesday was a joyous celebration for the Silicon Valley-based consumer electronics maker. It ended a new-product drought by debuting a smartwatch, a mobile e-payment service and two bigger-screen iPhones.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was in great spirits as he led the company's media event in Cupertino, Calif. He raised his arms in triumph after a standing ovation and rapturous applause greeted his introduction of the company's Apple Watch. He was giddy as he previewed a funny iPhone 6 ad campaign featuring celebrity buddies Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon. He ended the presentation by giving Apple's 500 million iTunes users the new album by Irish rock band U2.

It was Cook's moment to shine and show that the storied tech company could continue to innovate three years after the death of iconic co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs.

But the event left much unresolved.

What follows are some questions from Apple's biggest new product event in years.

1. Apple Watch looks great, but will consumers buy it?

Apple's smartwatch got an enthusiastic response from media and analysts at the launch event, but there are quite a few unknowns about the product, which is slated to hit the market in early 2015.

The smartwatch market is still unproven. Early smartwatches on the market from Samsung, Sony  and others haven't been huge sellers, with surveys showing that many consumers don't see the need for them. Younger consumers have abandoned wristwatches in favor of using their smartphones to keep track of time.

Will people splurge to have a second screen for their smartphone? The Apple Watch requires an iPhone 5 series or 6 series phone to work.

The smartwatch is a wireless accessory that starts at $349 for a basic model. Apple is positioning the device as a fashion item and will sell three versions: standard, sports and luxury. It did not announce a price for its top-of-the-line, 18-karat gold model.

"The product demo focused on a 'Swiss Army knife' of functions, raising some questions around whether a killer app exists yet for the category," Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said in a note Wednesday. "Given limited near-term consumer feedback on demand and price acceptance with an early 2015 ship date, we expect initial press on Apple Watch to be mixed, much like iPad."

Wells Fargo Securities analyst Maynard Um said that the Apple Watch will be more akin to jewelry or a status symbol, and may not have as broad an appeal as the company's other products.

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