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Articles from WATCHES (760 Articles)











ADR Studio rendered its own impression of an iWatch, which has circulated the web. www.adr-studio.it
ADR Studio rendered its own impression of an iWatch, which has circulated the web. www.adr-studio.it

Is Apple iWatch closer than we think?

Rumours about Apple entering the watch market have grown to fever pitch, with speculation that the company has 100 product designers working on an iWatch.

The headlines say it all; “Apple iWatch leak”, “Countdown begins for Apple iWatch”, and “iWatch heading into production”. Rumours about Apple launching an iWatch have been rife for more than 12 months but last week the rumor mill went into overdrive when the New York Times reported, ”Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass, according to people familiar with the company’s explorations.”

Nick Bilton, the NYT technology blogger increased the conjecture about the possible technical aspects of an iWatch, mainly surrounding the design and the newly invented “curved” or “bendable” glass, but there was no detail provided by Apple. 

The story quoted anonymous sources and noted that, “Apple declined to comment on its plans,” which is standard practice for the company. 

However, a few days later Bloomberg weighed into the story by reporting, “Apple has a team of about 100 product designers working on a wristwatch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad, two people familiar with the company’s plans said.”

The Bloomberg report went into great deal indicating that the increasing speculation might have some basis of fact; “The team, which has grown in the past year, includes managers, members of the marketing group, and software and hardware engineers who previously worked on the iPhone and iPad, said the people, who asked not to be named because the plans are private. The team’s size suggests Apple is beyond the experimentation phase in its development.”

Special edition: 2013 watch trends

Apart from recent innovations in smartwatches, mainly being driven by non-traditional watch companies like Pebble, Cookoo, Burg and Martin, the international watch market, dominated by Swiss and Japanese companies, has avoided the disruptions that most other consumer markets have experienced in the past five years.

Indeed, the last time the watch industry experienced significant upheaval was when the Japanese watchmakers challenged the staid Swiss watch industry in the 1970s by developing quartz (battery) watches. 

Seiko and Citizen brought the Swiss watchmakers to their knees and forced the Swiss to reinvent their industry, which eventually hit back in the 1980s with the enormously successful Swatch watch. It became a marketing phenomenon.

Paradigm shift 

It wouldn’t be the first time that a computer company had tried its hand at a watch – Microsoft collaborated with Swatch in 2004 on the “Paparazzi” – and if the continuing speculation about Apple entering the watch market proves correct, the traditional watch business could be in for the mother of all disruptions.

Former managing director of Citizen Watches Australia, Graham Henrickson, believes that a paradigm shift is on the way, saying, “It’s an inevitable certainty and it’s just a matter of when. Until today, the watch industry has been driven by the ‘design’ of timepieces and it’s the key driver for consumer purchasing.

“But behind the scenes many watch companies are developing communication devices, security devices and personal computers that will be small and stable enough to take the form of a watch,” Henrickson says.

He adds, “If the iPhone phenomenon was to become the iWatch juggernaut, and there is every chance it may not be that far off, the world as we know it would change. However, all would not be not lost, we may all be wearing two things on our wrists, a mini computer/communication/entertainment device and something we consider a piece of art – a traditional timepiece because we are nostalgic creatures. After all, if the iWatch is anything like an iPhone in power usage, best you carry a back-up!”

Adding to the rumours Bruce Tognazzini, a technology consultant and former Apple employee, wrote in a recent blog, “The iWatch will fill a gaping hole in the Apple ecosystem. Like other breakthrough Apple products, its value will be underestimated at launch, then grow to have a profound impact on our lives and Apple’s fortunes.”

Technical breakthroughs 

Apple has reportedly achieved a number of technical breakthroughs to bring an iWatch closer to reality so the question becomes, at what level would the product be pitched?

For example, would the design be introduced as a standalone wristwatch along the lines of the Nano incorporating a range of functions, or would it be Bluetooth-paired to an iPhone allowing phone use via the wristwatch without the need to take the phone from your pocket or purse?

There is third option and, although a little more improbable, is not beyond the realms of possibility; Apple’s plan is to disrupt the entire market and the iWatch would be the first step towards replacing smartphones entirely? 

Outrageous right? 

Well Apple does have form in this area having entered new markets and successfully leapfrogging its competitors a number of times. Afterall, Apple didn’t invent the mobile phone, computer tablet or MP3 player but its product in each category changed and dominates the market. 

According to Noel McKeegan, editor-in-chief Gizmag.com, a leading technology website, an iWatch would be a logical extension for Apple and agrees it could replace mobile phones altogether. 

"Signs certainly point to Apple giving serious consideration to a smartwatch. If it arrives anytime soon we would expect it to be tethered to an iPhone rather than being a stand-alone device, but it's undoubtedly a logical progression in terms of form factor and could eventually replace the mobile phone altogether,” Keegan told Jeweller.

“Just like the tablet computer, where Apple swept away all previous attempts by nailing it with the iPad, the company could again create a new paradigm if it does go down this path,” he added.

Watches as jewellery

It’s well accepted that there is little need to wear a watch these days given the “time” is all around us on mobile phones, PCs and even fridges and microwave ovens! The watch companies recognised that a long time ago, which is why watch brands advertise their products more as jewellery than timepieces. 

Not only are they fashion statements, most high-end watches are promoted as status symbols, and therein lays the conundrum; conventional wisdom says there are two types of consumers, those that wear wristwatches and those that don’t. 

However, maybe there is a third consumer, one that doesn’t realise they need a wristwatch because it hasn’t yet been invented.  

Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them.”

Gerard McDermott, an Australian software developer exactly fits that description. “I haven’t worn a watch for 35 years but if Apple launches an iWatch I’ll buy one,” he said. 

Still not convinced that the international watchmakers are facing upheaval? Well Google has patented a smartwatch with a transparent, flip-up touchscreen. The times certainly are a changin’!

Google
Google's Smartwatch Patent Image

One thing is sure, the topic will be on everyone’s lips in April at BaselWorld, the world’s largest watch and jewellery trade fair. The show, located in Basel, Switzerland, hosts more than 2,500 exhibitors and 100,000 international visitors, and it’s where the latest watch designs and trends are released. 
 



Pebble Smartwatch

 


Casio Smartwatch

 


Sony Smartwatch

 


Cookoo Smartwatch


Martian Smartwatch


The Burg "it's a phone" watch

 

More reading

Apple iWatch on the way?
Watch 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?

 











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Coleby Nicholson

Former managing editor • Jeweller Magazine


Coleby Nicholson was publisher and managing editor of Jeweller magazine for over 12 years. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than a decade and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

Independent Jewellers Collective (IJC)
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