Apple iWatch Market Analysis
May 27, 2013 – During an interview at All Things Digital D11, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, stated, “Wearables are incredibly interesting … it could be a profound area.” When asked if wearables will be part of the post-PC era, he responds, “Yes, I think so. I wear a FuelBand … Nike did a great job. It’s integrated well with iOS. There are lots of wearables, but of the ones doing more than one thing, I haven’t seen anything great out there. Nothing that will convince a kid that’s never worn glasses or a band to wear one. Or I haven’t seen it … so lots of things to solve here. The area is ripe for exploration, and it’s ripe for us to get excited about. Lots of companies will be in this space.” When further pressed whether Apple will be entering the wearable market, without officially saying yes, Cook revealed, “… it could be another branch of the [Apple] tree.” All of the above-listed statements by Apple Chief, Tim Cook, are highly indicative that Apple has a smartwatch currently in development. Apple CEO Tim Cook Discusses iWatch At D11
Apple iWatch Display
May 20, 2013 – Apple is reportedly testing a 1.5″ OLED display for the iWatch according to the Economic Daily Times. A 1.8″ OLED display from RiTdisplay was initially being tested, but was ultimately rejected as Apple thought the screen was too large. Apple Tests 1.5″ OLED Display .
February 18, 2013 – The New York Times claims the iWatch may “operate on Apple’s iOS platform” and incorporate a curved glass surface based on “the company’s understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body.” Rumors Abound, The Time Is Now
The Pebble smartwatch has taken an early lead in this rapidly evolving niche. However, the Pebble’s specs leave much to be desired, beginning with Pebble’s unimpressive 144 x 168 black and white e-paper display. Although understandably chosen to reduce battery consumption, a significant issue on such a necessarily diminutive device, it is highly unlikely that Apple would bring the iWatch to market with such an underwhelming display.
The i’m Watch possesses the the most impressive display of any currently shipping smartwatch. It features a perfectly sized 1.54″ 240×240 color TFT display, boasting 220 pixels per inch … and it looks great. Considering Apple has always been on the cutting edge of display technology, the iWatch will presumably match these specs at a minimum … and likely far exceed them. But for now, the i’m Watch is the display to beat.
Apple iWatch Band
March 24, 2013 – Apple received a patent for “sensing capacitance changes of a housing of an electronic device.” This new “squeeze-metal” technology would be perfect for turning the iWatch housing and/or band into a user interface, particularly since useable surface area will be so limited on the diminutive iWatch. Bezel, Band User Interface
February 22, 2013 – The US Patent and Trademark Office published a new Apple Patent Application for what appears to be an Apple iWatch resembling a smartwatch slap bracelet. Described as a “wearable video device”, the band contains a flexible display, an integrated circuit for driving the flexible display, a processor, RAM, ROM, a wireless communications antenna, a speaker, a battery, and a data and power connector. When considered in concert with rumors of Apple’s 1.5″ square OLED display tests, the described flexible display band may be implemented concurrently with a larger traditional display. Alternatively, Apple may be considering a smartwatch line with multiple entry points, such as is employed with its iPod offerings. Band Patent A “Slap Bracelet”
Thus far, current iWatch competitors, such as Pebble and i’m Watch, offer nothing remarkable as far as smartwatch band technology. Instead, they have chosen to employ standard strap bands typically found on traditional wristwatches. Based upon Apple’s recent “slap bracelet” patent application discussed above, we hope to see something revolutionary on this front from Apple’s iWatch band.
Apple iWatch Internal Specs
July 3, 2013 – Apple’s iOS 7 adds enhanced Bluetooth Smart Ready support tailored specifically for wearable computing devices. Accordingly, it is likely that the Apple iWatch will incorporate a Bluetooth 4.O Low Energy radio. iOS 7 Bluetooth Smart Ready Support
No information has been discovered, as of yet, with regard to potential iWatch specifications. However, Apple’s “slap bracelet” patent describes a processor, RAM, ROM, a wireless communications antenna, and a speaker, but without specificity. Band Patent, A “Slap Bracelet”
The Pebble smartwatch is powered by a dated ARM Cortex-M3 32-bit 125 MHz processor, unimpressive to say the least and, without a doubt, will be bested by Apple’s iWatch offering.
The i’m Watch smartwatch is built upon a more respectible ARM9 iMX233 32-bit 454 MHz processor with integrated Power Management Unit, touch screen LCD controller, and audio codec. Apple will likely integrate a processor more along these lines to ensure smooth operation of what is assumed will be iOS 7 or iOS 8.
Apple iWatch Release Date
June 9, 2013 – Apple has filed trademark applications for use of the term iWatch in Jamaica and Russia,receiving a priority registration date of December 3, 2012. Whether or not Apple is successful in trademarking the term iWatch, it appears as if Apple is poised to release a smartwatch into the wild before long. Trademarks Filed In Russia, Jamaica
May 20, 2013 – Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn has reportedly received an order to produce 1,000 iWatch trial units for beta-testing. If this is true, and Apple is entering the smartwatch beta testing phase, an iWatch would likely be released within the next 12 months. Apple Tests 1.5″ OLED Display
April 25, 2013 – After discussing WWDC 2013, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, states, “We’ve got a lot more surprises in the works … Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can’t wait to introduce in the fall and into 2014.” In addition, several Apple technology sites have begun to see iWatch apparitions in the WWDC 2013 banner. Apple Secretly Reveals New iWatch For WWDC 2013
February 18, 2013 – The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has already discussed the iWatch with manufacturing partner Foxconn, and is making preparations for a limited production run. If true, this indicates that, at a minimum, a preliminary design has been developed and approved and is ready for testing. Rumors Abound, The Time Is Now
Apple iWatch Price
Rumblings on the street set the iWatch estimated price at $399 for a basic model. However, these are simply educated industry guesses based upon very little gathered information. Therefore, we recommend that you place little weight on prediction of iWatch price at this time.
The Pebble smartwatch comes in at a cool $150 … just about right considering the lackluster components and styling. The strength of this smartwatch lies in its accessibility and its rapidly expanding developer and user base. Its popularity among early-adopting consumers ensures that a lot of work is being done to improve this 1st generation offering through rapid firmware and software updates. If it has a bug, there is someone immediately working to fix it … not always the case with technology in its infancy.
The i’m Watch started out at $399 … rather steep considering its software that initially felt like a beta. However, i’m recently reduced the price to $299 which, although presently at the top end of the market price range, is reasonable considering the top of the market specifications and styling the user receives for the purchase price.
Apple iWatch Competition
Smartwatch manufacturers, such as Martian and Cookoo, have begun to develop followings amongst the eager early-adopters and deserve a mention in this analysis. However, as their smart watches offer only basic notification features and do not function primarily as wearable computing devices, we do not consider them iWatch competitors. Rather, they are a separate smartwatch niche for watches designed to function primarily as an extension to a connected smartphone.
The Pebble and the i’m Watch are the only shipping smart watches that are currently competitors to the forthcoming iWatch and have been discussed ad infinitum by Smart Watch News. However, even though both products are currently on the cutting edge of smartwatch technology, we believe that the Apple iWatch will likely leave current first generation smartwatch offerings in the dust. Apple came in after gen 1 and swept away the digital music player market with the iPod, and Apple will likely have a repeat performance and sweep away the smartwatch market with the iWatch
But wait just a minute … announcing their intention to enter the smartwatch market are technology powerhouses Google and Samsung. Google has an edge in the wearable computing market having recently released Google Glass upon select lucky members of the beta-testing public. Google has demonstrated its commitment to wearable computing and has the infrastructure and experience to do something truly remarkable in the field. Google, like Apple, will be a company to watch (pun intended).
Samsung, also, has announced its intention to compete in this niche and has already brought a smartwatch to market. In addition, Samsung makes EVERYTHING electronic and will have no problem procuring cutting edge components. However, Samsung is not a company known for its innovation and that is exactly what it is going to take to be successful in round 2 of the smartwatch market. Therefore, Samsung will likely not be a true iWatch competitor until round 3 of the wearable computing explosion, after it sees what Apple and Google come up with and has an opportunity to poach some brilliance.
In conclusion, the public’s appetite has been whetted and, like Tim Cook, consumers are excited and ready for wearable computing that is truly revolutionary. We have not seen it yet, but it is coming … and the first revolutionary wearable computing product will likely be the iWatch.