We think they will be available!
Apple loves to control the “ecosystem” and so everyone is wondering whether or not aftermarket Apple Watch straps will be available.
As of March 14th, 2015 apple has not officially stated whether or not aftermarket Apple Watch Straps will be available. Having said that, multiple companies taking pre-orders on straps.
The companies are promising to ship within a few weeks of the Apple Watch launch. This indicates that they are close but need an Apple watch in order to finish the molds and produce their straps. This also indicates that they are not working with Apple to produce their straps.
This leads many to believe that there is some risk that Apple may take measures to minimize the non-oem strap market.
Why You Should Not Expect Aftermarket Apple Watch straps
The only stakeholder that would want to limit the availability of aftermarket straps is Apple themselves (and possibly Apple competitors but they don’t have a say).
There are a number of reasons Apple restricts aftermarket accessories. Accessories offer huge margins (profit) so it’s in Apples best interest to force consumers to use their accessories (such as chargers and watch straps) but it’s not just a money game. Cheap accessories can cause an unsatisfactory consumer experience – for example charging cables can fry batteries and cheap watch straps could snap (resulting in a lost watch), be uncomfortable, or damage the watch bezel.
Why You Should Expect Aftermarket Apple Watch Straps:
According to a 2012 ABI Research report the cell phone accessory market was worth $21 Billion and it’s grown rapidly since. The market for watch bands, chargers, and other accessories for the Apple Watch will be huge!
It’s a huge market
Companies will be racing to release straps and other accessories compatible with the Apple Watch. With straps costing hundreds of dollars the profit margins can be astronomical. Make no mistake about it, all sorts of straps will be available within days of the Apple Watch launch unless Apple has installed technology that stops the watch from working without an authentic Apple Strap.
If that is the case we expect a couple of things to happen: Apple will licence the technology which will significantly increase the cost of aftermarket straps and limit the selection (because licensing will be cost prohibitive for smaller companies) and for companies to figure out how to bypass the technology (which may take some time). Remember how hard it was to find a lightning cable for your iPhone 5 at a dollar store a year ago?
Companies are Already Preselling
The fact that you can already pre-order aftermarket Apple Watch straps proves that companies are quite confident they will not have an issue launching after market straps.
As mentioned above, even if Apple decides to restrict the aftermarket accessory market we fully expect them to offer licensing deals to large reputable accessory companies. This would result in higher priced aftermarket straps but they would be of high quality (Apple is not going to offer licensing to companies who manufacturer low quality products).
One way or another there will be aftermarket watch straps. The question is:
Will Apple restrict the market place or will it be totally open? Only time will tell (pardon the pun :))