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Apple iWatch rumours for 2013
Apple iWatch rumours for 2013

Apple iWatch on the way?

Is Apple about to enter the watch market with the launch of the iWatch? If you believe all the rumours, it might happen as early as this year. Would it be the greatest shake-up of the industry since the Swatch watch?
The rumour mill about Apple Computer developing an iWatch went into overdrive during the Christmas and New Year period with speculation that Apple and Intel were working on a Bluetooth smartwatch for debut in the first half of this year.

Jeweller first reported on the possibility of Apple entering the watch market two years ago. The December 2011 story asked, Will Apple launch an iWatch? As further speculation arose, we updated the report last month and investigated the wider smartwatch market and the likelihood of an Apple iWatch.

Read: iWatch out for the next game-changer

But just as that story was published news came from, a Chinese technology website, suggesting two sources from the “supply chain” were claiming that Apple and Intel were jointly building a Bluetooth-equipped smart wristwatch that could connect to other iOS devices, most notably iPhones, iPads and iPods.

According to the same sources, the Apple smartwatch could find its way to the market in the first half of 2013 and sport a 1.5-inch screen.

Rumours about Apple producing an iWatch first surfaced soon after the iPod Nano launch in 2005 when third party manufacturers began designing plastic watchbands to hold the Nano.

When resting, the Nano’s screen displays time as a watch face, which led many people to believe the Nano was made to be strapped to a wristband especially given that the late Steve Jobs was said to have alluded to the ‘watchband Nano’ when it was launched.

Wearable computing
But how and why would Apple consider extending its product range to watches? Well, some suggest it’s not about telling the time, it’s about “wearable computing”.

Some tech industry commentators suggest that Siri is the key to Apple’s entry into the watch market and the UK publication MacWorld questions how people would interact with an iWatch.

“There is a solution called Siri. Don’t laugh! Siri is in beta for a reason. We all know Siri is fun, and sort of impressive, but not really a replacement for the touch-screen display. But it will be? Voice interaction is going to become transcendentally good over the next few years,” the report states.

“The iWatch provides a Siri activation button to push and something other than thin-air to talk to. I think that’s psychologically important. It’s a voice controlled iPod Touch on your wrist that bounces audio wirelessly to your ears. Got it!”

Dick Tracy
Talking into your watch is nothing new! Apart from the 1930s cartoon character Dick Tracy, Dutch company Burg has already launched a wristwatch phone.

According to Martin Foster, a retired watchmaker who now attends international watch fairs reviewing new products, Burg launched the "It's a phone" smartwatch at the 2012 Hong Kong Clock and Watch Fair.

“If the rumours about an Apple iWatch are true then they have been a bit slow off the mark as a Dutchman has beaten them to it with the ”It’s a phone”, Foster told Jeweller.

Watch video: Dick Tracy is already here!

Even though a host of smartphones has been launched in the past 12 months, not everyone believes a smartwatch is on Apple’s drawing board.

Some people have gone as far as investigating whether Apple has lodged patents for the iWatch concept. To date, none have been found. Of course, that doesn’t mean anything for the company that has turned secrecy not only into an art form but a valuable marketing tool.

New trend
On the other hand, the speculation has caught the attention of US investment bank Piper Jaffray. The bank’s managing director and senior research analyst Gene Munster offered the following.

“While we are unsure of the ultimate launch timing (likely 2014 or later), we believe that Apple will eventually introduce some type of wearable computing product,” Munster writes. “We believe that wearable computers will ultimately be a major future trend. We expect Apple could profit from the trend in two ways.

“First, the company could create products for consumers, like the watch. Second, we believe the company could expand its MFi Program that licenses hardware manufacturers the ability to make products that connect to iOS devices. While we don’t believe the watch itself is something that will excite investors, we believe the trend offers future revenue potential beyond the iPhone/iPad franchise.”

If an iWatch materialises, the question facing the watch and jewellery industry is how this will affect the general market and the Swiss watch industry in particular?

More reading:
iWatch out for next game changer
Will Apple launch an iWatch
Lord of the watch - the man who saved the watch industry
Casio to release smartwatch
Smartwatch gets multi millions dollar kickstart
Android powered smartwatch
Watch trends - what makes you tick?

Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine

Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

RR Diamonds Australia

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