CNN has cited Bloomberg’s report about a plan of Apple to venture into another line of business separate from its current smartphone and tablet offering. So called the iWatch, this new wristwatch-like gadget is rumored to handle some tasks that Apple’s current products are now providing to its fans. Since last week, many publications have been running stories about this rumor, which has also become a celebrated topic almost immediately among tech circles and fans of Apple hungry for more innovative gadgets from their beloved company.
Well-placed sources of Bloomberg say that there are now about 100 employees working on this new product within Apple, suggesting that the company has already passed the experimentation phase. The team, say the sources, includes personnel from the unit working on the iPad and iPhone, individuals from the marketing group, and some managers. The names were withheld citing privacy of the plan at this time.
Marketing-wise, Apple is doing well in promoting to the public its next possible “big thing”, though consumers are yet to search for much better options for the current crop of wristwatches. Apple’s focus since last year had been the promotion and development of its Apple TV, which has been encountered many hurdles since day one.
Apple’s consolation though, if it is right, is knowing that it can predict what people want. This means that the iWatch may become a hit for many, and not just become another fancy wristwatch.
While Apple’s products have definitely excellent form factor, the new iWatch may not bank more on outward appearance but may now emphasize more in the advantages of using nanotechnology, better battery life, cheap sensors, and the advances in mobile computing. Apple’s iWatch is perhaps designed to work with other third party wearable sensors, creating a small but powerful hub that centers around the needs and wants of an individual. This makes another opportunity for creating more gadgets that will work with the iWatch. If Apple will it right, this will become another break for Apple to start a new industry that will revolutionize wearable products, just like what it did when it introduced mobile applications and the iOS App Store years ago.
The possibilities are endless for new wearable things that can be invented. “It’s unlimited, the number of wearable things you can tap into,” Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said. He thinks small companies will benefit from the new trend by making innovative products like a belt with sensors that will work in tandem with the iWatch in warning a user that he has eaten too much.
And Apple’s ideas regarding iWatch is not original. There are currently few nice smart timepieces that act as accessories to nearby smart devices running iOS and Android smartphones and tablets over Bluetooth connection. A good example is the new Pebble smart watch that vibrates, alerting the user, when his or her smartphone or tablet receives Facebook notification, e-mail, or text message.
There is also a growing trend in novel wearable devices as sensors to help track body movements and heart rates have become cheap over time. The same is true for wearable fitness gadgets. The entry of Apple into the potentially lucrative industry will surely shake things up.
Munster said that an Apple offering of its iWatch can significantly add value to the wearable technology sector.
While Apple is the foremost promoter of the new industry, it is not alone. Google is also rumored to be working on its own wearable product, the Google Glasses. The competition, although the iWatch and Google Glasses are distinct from each other, will be beneficial for consumers. The two will give users their own take on what user interface they are going to use. Each of these products is expected to create their own ecosystems of apps and accessories.
The emergence and dominance of smartphones have rendered traditional wristwatches redundant during the past few years. Smartphones now offer time and date that were so often the function of regular wristwatches. However, packing a wristwatch with enough memory, sensors, and connections like Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, makes it tiny powerful computer.
Apple’s main objective in creating an iWatch is to create yet another unique platform that would be the center for the creation of new apps. Munster said that the main reasons why smartphones are used by people are because of texting, Internet, and phone calls. And in this order only. According to him, two out of the three tasks mentioned can be handled by the iWatch while the need to surf the web and play games will be provided by a smartphone, ensuring its survival.
Another reason why Apple is pushing the iWatch is because of the pressure CEO Tim Cook is facing from shareholders, who have witnessed the company’s stock plunged more than 30 percent since September, despite record sales of the new iPhone 5. that Apple’s rivals like Samsung Electronics Co is making huge sales is not helping either. Shareholders are concerned that Apple’s lack of innovative products and gadgets that command high price will mean more falling margins and encourage more competition.
Apple had previously created wearable devices but did not introduce them to the market, said on of the sources of Bloomberg.
The main challenge for the new iWatch is power management. The product must be able to manage power demands to prevent recharge every day. The same is true for Google Glasses.