From portable music-players to smartphones to tablets, Apple (AAPL) has always
looked far and wide for that new device that would expand and deepen its
Now the Cupertino tech giant may be looking no further than its users' wrists.
Quoting unnamed sources, two published reports on Sunday said Apple is working on a prototype for a wearable watch-type gadget that might extend some of the powers of the iPhone onto an accessory strapped to the end of your arm.
This isn't the first time the watch rumor has surfaced. But according to the reports Sunday by both the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, Apple is in discussions with Foxconn, its primary manufacturing partner, to come up with a wristwatch-type of tech tool. The move would be a logical response to a maturing smartphone marketplace, where Apple is still selling tons of iPhones but seeing its high margins contract. A watch would provide Apple another channel to connect with its phones and tablets and help push more content into our lives.
The Times story attributed its report "to people familiar with the company's explorations, who spoke on the condition that they not be named because they are not allowed to publicly discuss unreleased products."
Two sources told the newspaper that the watch would operate Apple's iOS software and "stand apart from competitors based on the company's understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body."
"You never know what Apple's working on, and there've been rumors about everything under the sun, from TV sets to watches to flying cars," said analyst Avi Greengart with Current Analysis. "I've tested a bunch of watches that talk to my phone, and most tend to be clunky and somewhat limited in their functions. So I'm sure, given their track record, that Apple could certainly bring a better design to this type of gadget and offer a seamless experience as it does all kinds of tasks beyond just telling you the time or using it as a phone."
Neither Apple nor Foxconn could be immediately reached Sunday for comment on the story.
The wrist, it seems, is a potentially lucrative piece of human real estate, as many tech companies continue to innovate and bring new tech products that can be strapped on to the arm. While many gadgets already for sale are designed mainly to gauge physical activity, such as running or breathing, Apple could be looking at a far more sophisticated device that could incorporate many of the same apps users now enjoy on their smartphones and tablets.
Analysts have long been expecting Apple to try its hand at something for the wrist.
"We believe technology could progress to a point where consumers have a tablet plus wearable computers, like watches or glasses, that enable simple things like voice calls, texting, quick searches, navigation," analyst Gene Munster wrote last month in a report for Piper Jaffray. "These devices are likely to be cheaper than an iPhone and could ultimately be Apple's best answer to addressing emerging markets."
For now, it's still anyone's guess what Apple may or may not have up its sleeve.
"The most credible rumors," said Greengart, "tend to follow Apple's pattern of building out their iOS platform and Apps Store content and then creating new products that capitalize on that system. In that context, a wearable device would make a lot of sense."
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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