biggest player of the wearables market in a sort of invisible way."
"Over the long term wearable computing is inevitable for Apple; devices are diversifying, and the human body is a rich canvas for the computer," Ms. Epps said. "But I'm not sure how close we are to a new piece of Apple hardware that is worn on the body."
Investors would most likely embrace an iWatch, with some already saying that wearable computing could replace the smartphone over the next decade.
"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," Gene Munster, an analyst at Piper Jaffray, said in a report last month. "These devices are likely to be cheaper than an iPhone and could ultimately be Apple's best answer to addressing emerging markets."
Mr. Cook is clearly interested in wearables. In the past he has been seen sporting a Nike FuelBand, which tracks a user's daily exertion. The FuelBand data is shared wirelessly with an iPhone app.
Bob Mansfield, Apple's senior vice president for technologies, who previously ran hardware engineering, has also been particularly interested in wearables, an Apple employee said. Mr. Mansfield is engrossed by devices that connect to the iPhone, through Bluetooth, sharing information back-and-forth from the human body to the phone, including the Nike FuelBand and Jawbone Up.
If smartphones do become smart watches and smart glasses, Apple seems to have the technology to make standout wearable computers.
Last year the company filed patents for displays that sit over the eye and stream information to the retina. Given that the iPod Nano is about the size of an overfed ant, the company clearly knows how to make small devices, too.
But maybe there are other devices coming before wearables. Apple has long been rumored to be working on a television-like experience. And, there is the possibility of an Apple car.
In a meeting in his office before he died, Steven P. Jobs, Apple's co-founder and former chief executive, told John Markoff of The New York Times that if he had more energy, he would have liked to take on Detroit with an Apple car.
In August, during the company's patent trial with Samsung, Philip W. Schiller, Apple's senior vice president for worldwide product marketing, said on the stand that Apple had explored making "crazy stuff" before development of the iPhone and iPad, including a camera or a car. While Apple continues its experiments with wearables, its biggest competitor, Google, is pressing ahead with plans to make wearable computers mainstream.
According to a Google executive who spoke on the condition that he not be named, the company hopes its glasses, with a display that sits above the eye, will become 3 percent of revenue by 2015. Olympus is also working on wearable computers.
Google is holding private workshops in San Francisco and New York for developers to start building applications for its glasses. At the event in San Francisco last week, Hosain Rahman, chief executive of Jawbone, the maker of the Up, a wrist device that tracks people's energy and sleep, said that "a decade from now we won't be able to imagine life without the wearables that we use to access information, unlock our doors, pay for goods, and most importantly track our health."
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