Everyone is talking about Apple's rumoured iWatch. Evidence to suggest that an iWatch release date isn't far away flooded in throughout 2013, and, now that 2014 has arrived, speculation about the smartwatch has become an even hotter topic. Will this be the year Apple releases a wearable device?
Updated 10 April with KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo's suggestions about the new iWatch. Kuo is predicting two sizes of iWatch, to launch in the third quarter. He predicts Apple will eventually launch a $1,000 iWatch and start competing with the fashion watch industry.
Here in our iWatch release date, rumours and leaked images article, we'll keep you up-to-date with all the speculation about Apple's wearable tech venture, so you'll know when it's going to come out. Plus, we bring you all of the latest iWatch spec and feature rumours that are circling the web. Check back regularly for the latest iWatch rumours and speculation.
Will Apple launch a smart watch?
Rumours about an iWatch have been circulating since as far back as 2011, when it was believed that Apple had employed several new wearable computing experts to work on such device. In 2013 though, the speculation soared, with reports suggesting that Apple has a team of 100 people working on an iWatch. With numerous related hires and several job listings spotted, it's believed that the iWatch team has grown to more than 200 people. Read on to find out more.
Additionally, the wearable tech market is exploding. Companies including Samsung, Pebble, LG, Wellograph, Razer, Sony, ZTE and more have released or unveiled wrist-worn smart-devices, and 2014's Consumer Electronic Show was dominated by wearable devices.
Not only that, but Apple rival Google has recently announced a 'preview SDK' for its new Android wearables effort, which could lead to game-changing additions to the wearables space, including the Google Now smartwatch called G Watch.
This begs the question: is it too late for Apple? If Apple does decide to launch an iWatch now it will be way behind its rivals, at least time-wise (no pun intended). One analyst, Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research, thinks that Apple has just 60 days left to release an iWatch before it becomes "irrelevant."
"They only have 60 days left to either come up with something or they will disappear," Chowdhry is quoted as saying in a CNBC article. "It will take years for Apple's $130 billion in cash to vanish, but it will become an irrelevant company... it will become a zombie if they don't come up with an iWatch."
Apple will need to make its iWatch exceptional with all-new, never-before-seen technology that blows competitors out of the water, but we certainly don't think the company will "disappear" any time soon.
Thankfully, the rumours suggest that that's exactly what Apple intends to do. We've heard that the iWatch will have wireless charging capabilities and a curved display, and that it will change mobile health and fitness tracking forever.
When will the Apple iWatch launch?
Rumour has it that Apple's iWatch could arrive this year, many suggesting the latter half of 2014.
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is predicting that Apple will launch two sizes of iWatch during the third quarter of this year. He wrote: "We believe the rumored iWatch will be Apple's most important product this year, carrying much more weight than iPhone 6, as market feedback for the product should reveal whether Apple still has the ability to continue making game-changing products with Tim Cook at the helm."
Chinese newspaper Economic Daily News is claiming that we can expect to see Apple's iWatch in the third quarter of this year, according to "supply chain sources". It is claimed that although Apple will design the product, it will outsource production to Samsung with production starting in August and that
According to the report, shared by DigiTimes, Apple has high hopes for the product – it is hoping to ship 65 million iWatches this year.
This report is in line with claims from December 2013, when Chinese analysts C Technology suggested that the iWatch would launch in October alongside the iPhone 6. C Technology claims that sources have said Apple is testing two prototypes of the wearable device. Earlier in 2013, reports from DisplaySearch suggested that Apple has put the rumoured Apple Television on hold while it focuses on the iWatch for 2014.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has hinted that Apple is working on new product categories ahead of a 2014 launch, too, and in December 2013 sent out an email discussing "big plans" for 2014 that it believes its customers will love. Cook reiterated these claims during Apple's earnings call for the first quarter of 2014.
In May 2013, Foxconn reportedly began trial production of the iWatch. The company is believed to have ordered around 1000 units of the smart watch for a "small-scale trial production."
Then, in November, reports said that Apple had turned to Quanta to mass-produce the iWatch for 2014.
Then again, the iWatch might not arrive until 2016...
One rumour that many hope isn't true is that there could be a three year wait for Apple's iWatch. This speculation is based Corning, which makes the Gorilla Glass usesd in Apple's iPhones, doesn't expect its new flexible Willow Glass to find its way into consumer products until at least 2016. However, some suggest that Apple will need to be quicker than that, and ex CEO John Sculley believes that Apple is experiencing a 'lull in innovation' and needs a 'creative leap', which could arrive in the form of an iWatch.
Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said that Apple is losing its cool, but that he would welcome an iWatch.
In April, Wozniak added that Apple is working on new products that will "surprise and shock us all"
How much will the iWatch cost?
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo thinks the iWatch could cost even more than a staggering thousand dollars, at least at the high-end (presuming that multiple versions of the device are available). Kuo has a pretty good track record with Apple predictions, but we are cautious about his idea of the price of the iWatch.
Kuo states: "Fashion is the name of the game; most expensive model likely priced at several thousand US dollars. Referring to the rules of the fashion market, we predict the iWatch casing and band will come in various materials. The most expensive model of the iWatch line will carry a price tag of several thousand US dollars," notes Business Insider.
Other reports that arrived at the beginning of February added speculation to the price of the iWatch and the potential revenue it could generate for Apple. According to Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty, the iWatch could generate a total of $17.5 billion in its first year on sale, which would beat both the iPhone (which generated $2.5bn) and the iPad (13$bn) in their first 12 months on the shelves. That’s assuming Apple doesn't suffer from supply constraints, which could bring the revenue down to $12 billion, she says.
The iWatch, says Huberty, will have a price tag of $299 (Around £185). "Our working assumption is that iWatch largely will be adopted as an accessory device and, therefore, sold into the existing customer base, like the iPad, rather than to new customers, like the iPod or iPhone," she says.
The CIMB Group analyst who believes that the new Apple iWatch will launch in the second half of 2014 expects the iWatch to be priced between $149-229 (£95 - £146).
Quartz notes that, if Apple doesn't launch an iWatch into the high-end luxury market, it's going to be difficult to achieve high revenues and profit margins. Why? Because research carried out by the CEO of Metawatch and former Fossil executive Bill Geiser has found that 85 per cent of the $60 billion global revenue generated by the watch industry comes from watches with a price tag higher than $500.
However, it's unlikely that Apple will want to price its iWatch higher than its flagship iPhone, which starts at £549 ($649), so it could find that generating profit from a smartwatch difficult. However, this is Apple, so launching a product into the watch market will shake things up significantly and is likely to change the shape of the watch industry.
How many iWatches will Apple sell?
KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects shipments of the iWatch to hit around 5.5 million units in 2014, and from 30-50 million units in 2015
The CIMB Group analyst referred to by DigiTimes believes Apple's will ship 63.4 million iWatch units in 2014.
In March, estimates indicated that Apple could make more from an iWatch than it would from an Apple television set. However, one report has even suggested that the rumoured iWatch might not be a watch at all. Instead, the article, written by Benzinga Insights, suggests that iWatch could be the name that Apple gives to its rumoured television set, dubbed iTV.
How can we be sure Apple is working on an iWatch
We can't be sure that Apple even plans to enter the smartwatch market, but it looks likely.
Back at the beginning of 2013, reports from Bloomberg suggested that Apple Apple had hired a team of 100 people who were busily working on a smartwatch. As 2014 gets well under way, that team is believed to have grown to at least 200 people, according to MobiHealthNews's Brian Dolan.
The company is also believed to have hired numerous employees with backgrounds in sensors, medical, fitness and related technologies in recent years, ramping up hires in the past few months.
Some of the biggest iWatch clues come in the form of Apple job listings, which can be found on Apple's website. On 6 February, job listings for physiologists and engineers able to run health and fitness data-related tests were spotted, seeking new employees that will "design and run user studies related to cardiovascular fitness & energy expenditure."
This gives a strong indication that Apple is working on a health and fitness related product, and the iWatch seems to be the best platform for such features.
A second job listing spotted in February refers to "new platforms as of now unannounced," which could well be the iWatch.
Apple has also reportedly hired a sleep expert from Philips Research, the former chief medical officer at pulse oximeter firm Masimo Corporation, a Nike FuelBand developer, former staff from medical sensor firm Accuvein, C8 MediSensors (which monitors blood) and Senseonics (whose work focuses on glucose monitoring). Recently, Apple also reportedly hired Marcelo Malini Lamego, who is credited in more than 70 patents relating to medical sensors and monitoring technology.
In addition, Apple has hired Nancy Dougherty from startup Sano Intelligence and Ravi Narashimhan from general medical devices firm Vital Connect, reports 9To5Mac. Both of these new hires could benefit the iWatch team thanks to their expertise.
It's also believed that hires absorbed into Apple's iWatch team during its Authentec acquisition will bring their fingerprint scanning expertise to bear on the iWatch project.
Basis Health Tracker Watch makers Basis Science is reportedly in talks with Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft about a potential buyout deal. If Apple buys the company, it'll have Basis Science's heart rate, motion, calorie expenditure, sleep cycle, skin temperature and perspiration sensors at its disposal, which it could use in the iWatch.
More evidence that the iWatch is real
In February 2013, reports emerged suggesting that Apple is experimenting with watch-like wearable devices with some smartphone capabilities, as the company looks to new product categories for future growth.
The company has discussed the design with manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry, also known as Foxconn, which has been working on technologies that could be used in wearable devices, according to The Wall Street Journal, who cites people briefed on the effort.
A report from DigiTimes states that Kuala Lumpur-based CIMB Group analyst believes Inventec will land 60% of Apple's orders for the Apple smart watch.
In April, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that the company is working on "amazing" new products for an autumn launch, and that Apple will introduce "exciting new product categories" in 2014, adding further evidence to the iWatch rumours.
In May, Cook said that the wearable computing market is "ripe for exploration," but criticised Google Glass.
In February 2013, at Apple's annual shareholder meeting, Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed that Apple is working on 'new product categories', again sparking iWatch speculation. He told shareholders that the only thig Apple won't do is release a lousy product.
iWatch name: Will Apple be able to secure the iWatch trademark in the UK and US?
Apple recently grabbed the rights to the iWatch name in several countries, but two countries conspicous by their absence were the UK and the US. Why? Because the iWatch name is already taken there. We did some detective work to find out who owns the iWatch trademark in the UK and Europe, and what Apple's chances are of nabbing the iWatch brand in the US too.
In other words, Apple most likely faces a tricky choice: fight for the iWatch trademark here and in the US, or think of something else. And the iWatch could be called... iBand? Suggestions on a postcard.
If that's not enough to convince you that an iWatch really could be on the cards, Apple has even filed a patent application describing a wearable computer with a flexible display that can snap around the wrist to become a smart watch, as shown in the accompanying illustration above. Another patent filed by Apple this year covers the ability for an iPhone or iPad to share location data with an accessory device such as an iWatch.
Why hasn't Apple launched iWatch yet?
It is said that there have been iWatch manufacturing issues. The first iWatch reports to hit the web in 2014 claimed that Apple is struggling with iWatch manufacturing issues. On 2 January, Digitimes published a report that claims that the Apple is suffering from weak yields of the iWatch due to the difficult process of applying surface treatments to the metal injection molded chassis (MIM).
"MIM-made components used to be used inside products, but as the components are now becoming part of the external design, surface treatments have become an important process for the look of products," Digitimes' report reads.
Later in January, further reports surfaced to suggest that screen technology, battery problems and manufacturing issues have been plaguing Apple's iWatch. Sources cited by The Information say that there are several snags in Apple's iWatch plan, but that the company has a "sizeable team" working on the device.
Plus, reports have been speculating about the price of the iWatch, which could pose a problem for Apple. Find out why by scrolling down to the "How much will the iWatch cost" section of this article.
Read on to find out what features the iWatch will offer...