Assembly lines at Quanta Computer in Taiwan will begin churning out Apple’s first smartwatch this July, Reuters reported June 20, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Other sources added that the smartwatch, dubbed the iWatch by media outlets that have been anticipating such a device for years, will feature a display that measures 2.5 inches on the diagonal and is nearly square.
“The source added that the watch face will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape, and will feature a touch interface and wireless charging capabilities,” the report continued.
It added that Apple expects to ship 50 million units in the first year of the device’s release.
Apple shipped 19.5 million iPads in the first year of that device’s release; but the public’s engagement with technology has changed dramatically since 2010, and Apple’s user base has grown. Plus, analysts expect the price to be lower than for an iPad.
Steven Milunovich, with investment firm USB, expects the iWatch will be priced at $300 and that Apple will sell 21 million units in fiscal 2015 and 36 million units the following year, according to a June 9 report that Apple Insider was privy to.
Other sources, these ones talking to the Wall Street Journal, said Apple is likely to make watches in multiple screen sizes, and that specifications are still being finalized. They added that the iWatches will include more than 10 sensors, enabling them to do things like track users’ health and fitness accomplishments and go beyond what a smartphone can do—addressing a general criticism of early smartwatch efforts.
A June 15 New York Times profile on Apple CEO Tim Cook reported on the iWatch as a matter of fact. Apple employees, speaking on condition of anonymity and citing differences between the personal and work styles of Cook and Apple’s late co-founder Steve Jobs, pointed to how trusting of others Cook has been concerning the development of the watch.
“Mr. Cook is less involved in the minutiae of product engineering for the watch, and has instead delegated those duties to members of his executive cabinet,” wrote the Times.
“Mr. Cook appears to be interested in the smartwatch’s broader implications—for instance, that a watch might monitor heart rate and other vital measures, thus improving health and limiting doctor visits,” the report continued. “The watch is expected to be released in the fourth quarter, these people said.”
Apple introduced its upcoming mobile operating system, iOS 8, June 2, and with it Health, an application that monitors users’ personal health metrics, and HealthKit, which pulls together health information from various sources and can use that information to interface with a user’s doctor’s office or other applications. It can integrate with an app created by the Mayo Clinic, for example, and notify a doctor if a particular reading, say from a blood-pressure or glucose-monitoring device, is beyond an expected range.
Analyst Brian White, with investment firm Cantor Fitzgerald, has for months been telling investors that Apple will introduce at least two iPhone 6 models (with displays measuring 4.7 and 5.5 inches on the diagonal) and a smartwatch this fall, kicking off what he’s dubbed the “year of innovation.”
The software releases, White has said, are clear indicators of the hardware Apple has planned.
Adding to the idea that an iWatch will offer users new functionality, White has reported that it will also act as a home-controlling device, in addition to including some communication capabilities. Likely, these won’t encourage users to leave home without their iPhones, but at least to set them down and walk away from them for a bit.