Ready for an iWatch?

Jim Burress Feb 11, 2013

Ready for an iWatch?

Jim Burress Feb 11, 2013

Apple, the uber-successful maker of pods, pads and phones, is reportedly working on a watch with the functionality of a so-called “smart” device.

Apple won’t confirm in the report is true, but many who work in the mobile computing industry think such technology will be coming to a wrist near you, sooner rather than later.

In a way, it’s been here for a while. 

Casio’s calculator watch has been around for decades, and in 2003, Microsoft unveiled a watch that gave sports scores and weather called SPOT for Smart Personal Object Technology.

But SPOT turned out to be a FLOP. So why would Apple’s version fare better? 

“Apple has a pattern of taking a look at what technology is out there, but not working very well, and improving it to the point that consumers crave it,” says Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research.

Plus, a smart watch doesn’t have to replicate all the functionality of an iPhone or iPad to be appealing. 

Ed Price, director of research partnerships at Georgia Tech, says a smart watch would likely work with, not in place of, current products.

“A phone call comes in. Your phone is silenced, but the caller ID information is on your watch display,” he says, describing how a so-called “smart” watch could function in a real-world setting. “So it actually makes your existing smartphone or iPad work better than it does right now.”

The question is how to make it. Price says the technology for a small, bendable display exists. Corning makes the glass used in the iPhone, and says it’s developed a type of bendable glass called Willow Glass.

The company would not say whether Apple is working with Corning to use the technology.

However it’s made, Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster says it’s coming.

“In Apple’s case, we think they’re always looking to find something better than their existing business, and this would fit that category,” he says.

Munster says smart watches and smart glasses are the two arenas where consumers are most likely to see new mobile computing technologies.

The next question is what to call it? iWatch, iTime, iWrist? iDunno.

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