By Todd Bernhard on Thu, 07/24/2014
Given the announced (and shipping) smartwatch products from Samsung, LG, Motorola, Pebble, and other manufacturers, and the substantial rumors around an iWatch from Apple, the question is when, not if, Apple will introduce a wearable offering. But there are some fresh reports that suggest a new twist.
First, the iWatch might not be called iWatch after all. A patent filing from Apple suggests they could call their device iTime. Of course, that could be a placeholder for patent purposes. I would recommend they use "Apple Watch" similar to the "Apple TV." That way, they get off the "i" prefix treadmill. Every time someone talks about the watch they would be saying Apple's name! Another option is to leverage the Beats brand somehow. After all, headphones were the first wearable, and it could add some prestige to help offset the expense of a smartwatch. If people pay $300 for Beats headphones, they should be okay paying that much for a Beats Watch. It's a form of electronic, functional jewelry.
Next, perhaps Apple might not be the only one making iOS-based smartwatches? There have been rumors about Apple meetings with both Timex and Swatch. Swatch has tried to quash the rumors, but that could be because of confidentiality agreements, or deals that aren't yet complete. Apple could be creating a platform, similar to HomeKit for smarthomes or Google Wear, which sets standards for Android-based smartwatches and wearables. In that scenario, Apple wouldn't make the actual device but would establish specifications to make watches compatible with Siri, iOS, etc.
Still, Apple is great at design and I would love to see what Jony Ive can do with a watch. If Apple makes a watch that is elegant and full-featured, what opening is there for iOS-based smartwatches from other vendors? Probably price, as Apple's watch wouldn't likely be cheap. Clearly Swatch has a colorful fashion sense all their own, and could combine Swiss-made with Cupertino specifications, at a low cost. And Timex is known for rugged and affordable watches, with a recognizable name so that could be their advantage.
Maybe iOS-compatible smartwatches won't look like miniature iPhones after all? I've been using a Voice-Command Martian Watch for years that has a Siri button and small LCD screen, on top of a traditional analog face. This could be a way for traditional watch vendors to make official Apple-compatible watches without the size, expense, and fragility of a touchscreen display.