By Jim Karpen on Wed, 02/13/2013
A team of 100 product designers are hard at work developing a new product — a wristwatch computer for Apple, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The news strongly suggests the product has moved beyond the experimentation phase.
Apple develops many experimental products it never brings to market, but dedicating so many resources to the watch indicates we may be seeing this rumored wearable computer at some point in the not-too-distant future. Bloomberg cites sources familiar with Apple's plans — and even names two top executives who are working on the project. The team not only includes hardware and software engineers according to the article, but also managers and members of the marketing group. If the marketing group is involved, it suggests Apple is already thinking about how it’s going to position and sell this device.
Bloomberg’s report comes on the heels of similar news from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. And while the iWatch is generating some buzz, enthusiasts are not showing nearly the same level of enthusiasm occasioned by rumors of a new iPhone or iPad. Perhaps it's because watches are a bit passé. But Apple has a way of re-conceptualizing familiar objects and disrupting the market. After all, the market already was saturated with MP3 players when Apple came out with the iPod. And when Apple announced the iPhone, experts greeted the news with scorn. Since the big players in the industry already dominated the market, no one imagined a phone from Apple would have any impact. Of course, in the end it completely transformed the industry. And today Apple takes home 70 percent of the profit in the smartphone market.
What is the potential of the iWatch? No one knows at this point. But according to what I've read, it would be nearly impossible to replicate the functionality of the iPhone in a watch. It probably won't have a FaceTime camera, and I'm guessing it wouldn't be able to run Siri or offer maps. The most likely scenario is that, like the Pebble watch, it would be an adjunct to an iPhone, receiving and displaying information from your iPhone such as alerts and text messages. However, one never knows. And as the Bloomberg piece notes, Apple's offerings are often underestimated at launch. As people realize how cool and useful the products are, they begin to snap them up.
The image accompanying this post is by artist Yrving Torrealba.