Several news outlets are reporting that Apple is working on a prototype for a watch-like computing device that owners would wear on their wrists. But experts caution that it could take a long time for such products to reach the marketplace—if they ever do so.
The Wall Street Journal’s Jessica E. Lessin reported, “Apple Inc. is experimenting with designs for a watch-like device that would perform some functions of a smartphone, according to people briefed on the effort. The company has discussed such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., one of these people said, as part of explorations of potentially large product categories beyond the smartphone and tablet.”
Nick Bilton with The New York Times added, “In its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass, according to people familiar with the company’s explorations, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they are not allowed to publicly discuss unreleased products. Such a watch would operate on Apple’s iOS platform, two people said, and stand apart from competitors based on the company’s understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body.”
Computerworld’s John Ribeiro noted, “Apple did not immediately comment on the reports. It has been speculated for months that the maker of the iconic iPhone and iPad devices may look at wearable devices including watches. The so-called iWatch will fill a gaping hole in the Apple ecosystem, and be the hub to facilitate and coordinate the activities of all the other computers and devices we currently use, and a wide array of devices still to come, wrote former Apple designer, Bruce Tognazzini, in a blog post last week. ‘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,” said Tognazzini.
However, Tech Crunch’s Darrell Etherington cautioned, “But before you label a jar ‘Apple iWatch Reserve Fund’ and start pinching your pennies, consider the likelihood that this kind of tech is coming to store shelves soon, if at all. Here’s the thing: Apple builds stuff all the time. Literally all the time they’re working on things, including the fabled Apple television set that has made Gene Munster’s predictions one of the longest current running jokes in the tech industry today. Would Apple build a wearable computer prototype? Given the success of iPod nano wristwatch case accessories, given the unprecedented crowdfunding of the Pebble smart watch, given Google’s clear and present interest in wearable tech with Google Glass, the answer is ‘of course.’ But to build and to ship are two entirely different things, and Apple often does the former, but only selectively continues through to the latter.”