Maybe it’s all wishful thinking, but there is a published report suggesting that Apple might introduce an iWatch sooner than previously expected. Maybe it’s a matter of desperation, or the lack of anything new or significant from Apple. Well, other than the statement from Tim Cook that the recent slowdowns in iPad sales amounted to a speed bump of some sort. Maybe.
So far the speculation about an Apple wearable pointed to a fall introduction, probably in October, with shipping to begin shortly thereafter, or at least far enough in advance of the holiday season to get the maximum number of sales. But there is that new report from Re/Code’s John Paczkowski, who is one of those supposedly well-connected reporters with close ties with Apple, suggesting it’ll be part of next month’s iPhone launch event.
Now remember that Re/Code is the successor to All Things D, which famously sponsored conferences that featured such industry figures as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer and Tim Cook. In other words, this is a source that has to be taken seriously, which is why the story is getting quite a bit of traction.
At the same time, though, there doesn’t seem to be much or any chatter about an iWatch from the supply chain, or at least the rumor sites aren’t reporting any. You’d think that a new Apple gadget, just a couple of weeks from introduction, would already be in production and thus some information would leak and make it into the media. That hasn’t happened.
What has happened is speculation that Apple might have run into problems developing and assembling an iWatch, and a recent rumor had it that it might not be released until late this year or early in 2015. That would be a loss for Apple, since a holiday season would be missed. But of course there’s no confirmation of any of this. There are always rumors about Apple-related production difficulties.
In short, there is as yet no such thing as an iWatch except for ongoing media speculation, and the fact that Cook has admitted the company is interested in wearables. But does a wearable mean a wristwatch? I suppose that would be a very convenient way to deliver such a device, so it seems to make sense.
Now I suppose Apple could launch the new iPhones, announce the release of iOS 8 — and perhaps OS X Yosemite — and deliver the magical, mystical “one more thing” coda. This would produce a loud round of applause from at least some of the assembled journalists. Well at least the ones who don’t worry about being fair and balanced.
You’d see a demonstration of the iWatch along with the announcement of the shipping date and pricing for all configurations. But actual shipment may not occur until some time in October or, at the latest, early November.
This sort of announcement wouldn’t stretch logic. It’s a first generation product, and thus asking you to wait a month or two to buy one isn’t unusual for Apple. There is no risk of killing sales for an existing gadget, and it would certainly send the competition scrambling to figure out how they can devise something with which to compete.
What is being claimed about the iWatch is that it’ll offer health and fitness-related apps and sensors. Thus, it would probably use a slimmed own version of iOS 8 and the HealthKit. The full range of the features is another huge question mark, as is the extent of integration with your iPhone.
One thing I’d like to see is the ability to do most of its stuff without that iPhone link. Otherwise you’d have a doorstop beyond just showing date and time. I would also expect that an iWatch would be quite different from the competing products in the so-called smartphone space.
So the Moto 360, Samsung Galaxy Gear, and even the Pebble, might be products that appear to exist in an alternate universe. But that’s nothing new for Apple.
Don’t forget that there were indeed digital music players before the iPod arrived. Most were forgettable, and though I reviewed some of them at the time, I couldn’t possibly recall the brand names or any specifics about them, other than the fact that they were slow and not easy to use.
The main argument against an Apple smartwatch is that this is a category that has so far gone nowhere. Maybe sales in the hundreds of thousands are just fine for a small startup such as Pebble. But Apple needs to sell millions of them for it to make sense.
As to pricing, I wouldn’t hazard a guess. But it does seem that if any iWatch can serve as an integrated mobile phone, there would be the inevitable carrier subsidies to buy one. Adding a cellular radio, with LTE and all, isn’t going to be cheap, and it would be hard to believe that Apple could build an iWatch that serves as a mini-smartphone without charging $400-500 for one.
But all this discussion is probably useless at this point. In less than two weeks, we’ll know the facts. But that assumes the latest speculation, however well sourced, is accurate.