Rumours about Apple Computer launching an iWatch have been around for a few years. The speculation began around the time of the iPod Nano launch and when third party manufacturers designed plastic watchbands to hold the Nano.
When resting, the Nano’s screen displays time as a watch face, so some people believed the Nano was made to be strapped to a wristband. Steve Jobs is said to have alluded to the ‘watchband Nano’ when it was launched.
However, speculation about a wristwatch has increased in recent weeks with the suggestion that Apple will launch an iWatch in 2012. If correct, it could be the greatest shake-up of the international watch market since the launch of the Swatch watch in 1983.
An entire industry has spawned from speculation about Apple’s future developments, and some believe that Apple, and Google, have been secretly working on ‘wearable computers’.
It’s arguable that wearable computers have been a reality for a long time given the wide array of high-tech digital watches already on the market. Think of high-tech diving and mountaineering watches, heart rate monitors and Tissot’s T Touch, and you will see that wearable computers are nothing new.
However, some believe the game is about to change!
Only a week ago the New York Times (NYT) reported that “The ultimate version of this technology [wearable computers’] is a screen that would somehow augment our vision with information and media.
Over the last year, Apple and Google have secretly begun working on projects that will become wearable computers. Their main goal: to sell more smartphones. (In Google's case, more smartphones sold means more advertising viewed.)”
The NYT report, written by Nick Bilton, claimed that Google researchers are working on peripherals that — when attached to your clothing or body — would communicate information back to an Android smartphone.
The launch of Apple’s artificial intelligence software Siri has added to the rumours that an Apple iWatch could soon become a reality.
Bilton speculated that, “Apple has also experimented with prototype products that could relay information back to the iPhone. These conceptual products could also display information on other Apple devices, like an iPod, which Apple is already encouraging us to wear on our wrists by selling Nanos with watch faces.
A person with knowledge of the company's plans told me that a "very small group of Apple employees" had been conceptualizing and even prototyping some wearable devices.
One proposal is a curved-glass iPod that would wrap around the wrist and wearers could communicate with the device using Siri, Apple’s artificial intelligence software.
Other technology writers have added to the debate saying that an iWatch is a possibility because of Apple’s new iCloud technology.
I was wrong, iWatch is coming
Technology writer Mike Elgan, who had previously gone on record in September 2010 as saying that Apple would not develop a wristwatch, has now done a complete backflip.
, a daily news website that follows everything Apple, Elgan declared that he was previously wrong about an Apple watch; “I now believe the current rumors that Apple is getting into the wristwatch business.”
Elgan’s 2010 story listed Apple’s three criteria for entering an entirely new market and then explained why an Apple watch did not fit with the company’s future. “ ... the iWatch idea fails all three criteria: 1) existing watches can be awesome and elegant; 2) wristwatch-specific apps would be too small a market for Apple to bother with; and 3) an iWatch could never find the massive penetration of the iPhone, or even the iPad, given that most people consider wristwatches a fashion accessory, which they tend not to buy from computer companies.” Elgin wrote.
But with the advent of Siri and iCloud, Elgin believes the game has changed, “All this makes sense — if you think of an iWatch as a wristwatch and a stand-alone device. But that’s not what the iWatch will be.”
He explained why he believes an iWatch will be a remote control device. “A stand-alone Apple wristwatch makes no sense. But an elegant remote control, lashed to the wrist that enables Siri commands to bring things down from the cloud makes all the sense in the world. Apple is already aggressively moving toward an iCloud-centric Appleverse where whatever iDevices you have connect and share with each other via iCloud.”
Apple’s current marketing promotes the future of personal computing as being in the ‘clouds’, where you can take a photograph on your iPhone and it will automatically appear on your iPad. Add new music to your desktop iTunes and it will also appear on your iPhone and iPad!
While the reports of an iWatch are only speculation, it’s not the first time that a major computer company has entered the watch market. In October 2004 the Swiss watch behemoth Swatch, joined with its equivalent in the computer market, Microsoft, to announce the launch of the Swatch Paparazzi.
In a one-on-one interview with the author in 2005, the eccentric Swatch founder Nicolas Hayek
, “We’re doing a radio-communication watch and you pay Microsoft a monthly fee to receive [just like a telephone] and you get all of the information you need wherever you are in the US. It’s been very successful. Bill Gates and my son, [Nicolas Hayek Jr] have created this and it’s running very well.”
The Paparazzi was a smart watch and was based on Microsoft’s SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) technology and could be connected to MSN Direct.
The wearer would then choose only the information they wished to receive on their watch by visiting the MSN Direct website and wearers had the ability to personalise channels of information including news, sports, weather, horoscopes, personal messages, calendar appointment reminders and stockmarket quotes.
The Paparazzi was killed-off in April 2008 when Microsoft announced that it did “not have immediate plans to create a new version of the Smart Watch, as we are focused on other areas of our business.”
If an iWatch is in Apple’s arsenal of new products for 2012, and with owners being able to communicate with their watch via Siri and manage their life no matter their location courtesy of iCloud, it could mean that the famous comic strip Dick Tracy
may have finally become a reality 80 years after it was first published.
Image Credit: Hero image design by Yrving Torrealba www.venestudio.com