Apple's stock could get a needed boost later this year, when the company is expected to ride the wearable technology wave with the debut of a wristwatch aimed at tapping into the $6 billion smart watch market.
The "iWatch" will be integrated with the wearer's iPhone and iPad, without negating the need for either one, said Max Wolff, senior analyst at Greencrest Capital.
It will likely allow the wearer to see who's calling and to receive alerts and incoming emails and texts, Wolff added.
It may use voice commands, such as "weather" or "traffic," as the input method, said Roger Kay, founder and president of Endpoint Technologies Associates in Wayland.
And, like fitness devices such as FitBit, it may also have a pedometer or sensors tracking data such as heart rate.
"This is an opportunity for Apple to disrupt this category," Kay said. "An iWatch could re-establish Apple's reputation as an innovator."
The design, though, is being closely guarded by Apple.
"It has to work and have some value as a fashion accessory," Wolff said. "It needs to be sleek and stylish. It should be a little different from other watches on the market. It needs to be noticeable without being clunky or dorky."
It also needs to make people think twice before investing in Google's Glass wearable device, which also is due out this year.
Wearable computing devices will exceed 485 million annual shipments by 2018, according to ABI Research.
If Apple is able to make inroads in the business, it would boost the technology giant's stock, which is down by more than a third since peaking in September.
"It is clear that Apple needs to create a new category and do it soon," said N. Venkat Venkatraman, a Boston University management professor. "A watch is easier to launch than a TV. It's easier to produce since it is a variation on the iPod mini and the iPhone, and uses the same app structure and Siri plus Bluetooth integration. Moreover, it has global appeal and can rekindle Apple's cool factor."
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