What's Up with Apple's Coming iWatch?

Several mobile IT analysts share their thoughts about what the iWatch will mean and what it will include, whenever it finally is released in the United States.

Apple iWatch

No one is really sure when Apple's long-awaited iWatch smartwatch will actually be introduced by the company, or when it will be available for sale in the United States and around the world. The latest rumors call for a possible announcement on Sept. 9 at an Apple event that the company isn't even confirming at this point. That event is also rumored to be the launch event for the upcoming iPhone 6.

But the lack of information about the iWatch and the lack of a schedule for its release and eventual sale certainly haven't kept the wheels of rumor and innuendo from spinning wildly. Even the industry analysts at Forrester Research got into the iWatch rumor spirit on Aug. 25 with an online newsletter post about the watch and what it will mean for Apple and for consumers.

"Will the long-awaited and ballyhooed iWatch make its debut at Apple's event next month?" the Forrester newsletter asked. "If it does, Apple will position itself in the center of the expanding wearables market."

J.P. Gownder, a Forrester analyst who covers wearables and mobility, told eWEEK in an Aug. 26 interview that he is already thinking that the iWatch will have a great impact when it is unveiled.

"I think that Apple is going to define wrist-based computing," said Gownder, "because they're going to create an eco-system of value. So that as you walk through the world of retailers where you like to shop at … it will reach out to the world" and interact to make purchases for you and more. The iWatch will also likely be tied into health care systems and facilities to provide information back and forth for its user, he said.

"This all makes me think it will be much more than just another consumer gadget," said Gownder. "We do believe there will be an iWatch, and we think it will be quite big."

One thing that will be critical for Apple to have success in the marketplace with such a device, he said, is for the iWatches to be presented as very different from the smartphones that consumers already have and use. "These devices shouldn't just be an example of the miniaturization of smartphones." Gownder feels so strongly about that statement that he even wrote a recent Forrester blog post on that exact topic.

For Apple, the company has historically entered device markets when they were already being established, said Gownder. "There were MP3 players before the iPod and smartphones before the iPhone. There were tablets before the iPad. Apple isn't late to this game in smartwatches. It's an immature market."

In fact, most smartphones that are offered today from companies such as Samsung, LG, Timex, Sony, Martian and Android Wear aren't fully developed yet and are still being improved, redefined and refined, said Gownder.

One of the key expectations for the iWatch is that it will allow its wearers to track their health and fitness information because those features are not available on smartphones, he said. One of the things it need not do is allow users to send emails and texts, he added. "There's no purpose to doing it on a watch. You have your phone for that stuff."

Also probable is some kind of authentication application for mobile payments that users can use to make purchases while wearing the watch, Gownder added. "It will differentiate it beyond a smartphone."