The New York Times recently reported that Apple (AAPL) is indeed working on a wristwatch as its potential game-changing new innovation. While there has previously been a great deal of speculation about an “iWatch” (to say nothing of “iTVs” and “iCars”), this particular news is going to generate speculation and excitement.
The notion of a phone-watch or computer-watch has long been present in the collective imagination via countless works of science fiction, as well as through other fictional characters such as Dick Tracy and James Bond. Apple’s iOS platform provides an already-existing framework by which to imagine how such a device could not only function but be useful as well (Apple has somewhat of a track record in removing the “fictional” from the “science” in its innovations, after all).
An “iWatch” would have significant implications for Apple as a company. It has certainly been a while since the tech giant has released anything as ground-breaking as an iPhone or iPad. Indeed, most, if not all, of their recent product releases have been upgrades or modifications of already-existing products, such as the iPhone 5, or the iPad mini, and this has left many wondering when (or if) they have still got the capacity to wow consumers and the market.
In terms of what such a watch would look and feel like, the NYT article suggests we look no further than the glass company Corning (GLW), who already makes the glass used in iPhone screens, and who currently claims to be very near to perfecting a flexible type of glass -“Willow Glass”- that would be at once durable as well as comfortable on the wrist.
Furthermore, Apple has shown considerable interest wearable computing in other ways, for instance its iPhone app for Nike’s (NKE) FuelBand (a device that collects data on a user’s daily exertion). An even better example would be the company filed for patents on devices that stream information directly to the retina, suggesting that there has been interest in the kind of computer-glasses that are openly being developed by Google (GOOG), and, to a lesser extent, Olympus.
A rather spectacular and thorough fleshing out the possibilities can be found here, at the blog of former long-time Apple designer Bruce Tognazzini. In a Wednesday, February 6 post/meditation on the “iWatch”, the author speaks as though the device is just waiting for reality to catch up with it. The author sees the immediate practical applications of a so-called smartwatch in its ability to facilitate the management of all the other devices that make up the iOS ecosystem, but also sees it as being highly adaptable to future needs and innovations. Say what you will about the tenor of this blog posting, it certainly suggests that any future “iWatch” would not be the kind of product that would cannibalize the company’s sales as have many of their recent releases.
In any event, Monday saw Apple’s stock close at $479.93 per share, the highest point since its dive below $500 last month, when it reached a 52-week low of $439.88 on Jan. 25.
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