Apple to play wearable computer game, says analyst

Apple to play wearable computer game, says analyst

Summary: Could an Apple wrist watch ultimately replace the iPhone? Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster makes the case.


Apple is expected to plunge into the wearable computer game ala Google's Project Glass with a wrist watch that could ultimately replace the iPhone, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

Google is going for wearable computers, but Apple may be the one to popularize them.

With analysts talking about an Apple TV for most of 2012---only to not get one---industry watchers need to focus on some next big thing. That next big thing is likely to be wearable computers. In a research note, Munster said:

We note that recent speculation from tech blogs suggests that Apple may launch a watch as a companion device to the iPhone. While we are unsure of the ultimate launch timing (likely 2014 or later), we believe that Apple will eventually introduce some type of wearable computing product. As we have previously noted, we believe that wearable computers will ultimately be a major future trend. We expect Apple could profit from the trend in two ways. First, the company could create products for consumers, like the watch. Second, we believe the company could expand its MFi program that licenses hardware manufacturers the ability to make products that connect to iOS devices. While we don't believe the watch itself is something that will excite investors, we believe the trend offers future revenue potential beyond the iPhone/iPad franchise.

The bottom line for Munster is that wearable computers over the next decade are likely to replace smartphones and mobile devices. In this vision, you'd carry a tablet that would complement watches and glasses and allow for calls, searches and other tasks.

Munster added:

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, etc. through voice control. Longer term, screens in glasses or projectors could replace the necessity of a screen from a smartphone or tablet. These devices are likely to be cheaper than an iPhone and could ultimately be Apple's best answer to addressing emerging markets.

The wearable computer trend would give analysts something to ponder for Apple going forward. In the meantime, Munster is expecting an Apple TV in November 2013, a "modest” iPhone 5 upgrade in September, and iOS 7 preview in June and an iPad Mini with retina display early in the year.

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPhone, iPad, Tablets

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  • Replace? No.

    I can see a watch device being offered in addition to the iPhone, but I don't see it replacing it for a simple reason: a lot of people dislike wristwatches. There are other reasons of course. We're trying to get away from multiple devices, and lets face it, using a watch as a phone would be very difficult, which would mean people would also need a bluetooth headset. I don't really see any wearable device (other than glasses, if only because of the unique applications that could be done with a transparent display) being that popular.
    • Wow

      Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online(Click on menu Home)

      Happy New Year!
    • Calling Dick Tracy, calling Dick Tracy!

      The watch as a phone thing worked for him. :)
      William Farrel
    • That is a hard call as trends are really goofy!

      That is a hard call as trends are really goofy! A few years back, before every child had a smart phone bonded to his/her hand at the time of birth, wrist watches were getting slimmer and sleeker. I went to buy an inexpensive watch for myself this year, and you know what? Huge honkin' watches are in style! I mean watches that have a dial on them that are about 2" across and nearly a half inch thick! (The woman in line in front of me wanted one even bigger! The idea of an old fashioned Big Ben wind up alarm clock and a roll of duck tape crossed my mind...) And this is by the same people that stopped wearing watches because their cell phones have the time built in.

      I wear glasses all the time, and I bought a Galaxy Note this year to consolidate my Raz'r, my huge Clie', and my laptop into one device. (And I still like to wear a wrist watch.) If I could get the same display size projected on my eyeglasses and use my wrist watch for pointing and poking when I needed to, without losing any functionality, that would work for me!

      If anyone could pull it off, it would be Apple and the late Steve Jobs. However, without Jobs, it would end up being designed by committee, if at all. That is just as well for me because I would wait for the Android version anyway.
  • Don't forget - this is Gene Munster he's talking about.

    Not really the bellwether of the correct, in reference to Apple these past 12 to 24 months.
    William Farrel
    • yep, I guess he gave up on the Apple HD TV fantasy.

      Sometimes I feel bad for Gene "the Herman" Munster.
  • Bah

    I have not worn a watch since I was a child and have no intention to do so ever again. And deface my glorious visage with GLASSES? Shirley, you must be joking.

    I really don't see how either of these will jump the gap from minor curiosity to "likely replace smartphones." Perhaps among the tragically dweeb, but they are a tiny, negligible percentage of the market.
  • Another stunt by ' analyst' to keep the share price high

    Apple is done, its products are nothing but rip-off overpriced gadgets, its marketing machine convince poor consumers that they are buying some highly values fashion accessory.... how long can apple fool people....

    ipad 5, 6,7 or mini 1, 2, 3 and retina display and iphone 6,7,8...all run on boring and incapable iOS...

    Corporates and studnets are already dumping ipads for Surface... and there is more heavy competition in the 7 inch sector...
    • Right, right

      Nevermind that NO ONE even bothers to steal MS or Android based gear... and check out the resale value of iOS devices vs non iOS devices on places like eBay. For example I sold my AT&T iPhone 4 on eBay for the same price I bought it for 2 years ago... I could not do that with an Android based or WP based device.

      But yeah iOS sucks right? It's old, right? No one wants any of it, right?
      • But ask yourself why?

        When the same, if not less, gets you a brand new iPhone 5?

        And I'm not sure what the reference to stealing Android and MS products? Could it be because they are far more affordable the Apple products?
        William Farrel
  • This is classed as news?

    Why, because it has apple in the title? Watches capable of making calls are not new. They were rejected because no one wants to talk into their wrist or they can wear a headset connected to their phone. Bluetooth 'companion' watches are not not new and available on fleabay in their hundreds.
    So what is the news here? I see nothing other then the vaguest of predictions. Absolute non-story. I can see value in talk of glasses and augmented reality but strangely it all seems so familiar, like a large corporation have already released developer kits for the same idea. Hmmm, I wonder why?
    Munster should be not be seen as news worthy and lazy bloggers shouldn't be given column inches to repeat his pointless drivel. Oh but wait, it gets clicks because it has apple in the title, of course.
    Little Old Man
  • What? apple is going to copy Microsoft again?

    Color me shocked. No, seriously, I'm amazed that apple would see MS's MP3 player and copy it, see MS's smartphone and copy it, see MS's tablet and copy it, and now they are going to copy MS's watch.

    apple's R&D department is called Microsoft.
    • Fact reversal is a hoot!

      You should write for the Onion.
      • I know. MS never had a watch idea

        They coppied from Apple
        William Farrel
        • Hmmmm...

          I might grant that Apple copies Microsoft's failures (Tablets) and makes them successful (iPad) while Microsoft copies Apple's successes (iPod) and makes them failures (Zune).

          So how did Microsoft's watch do?
          • Hmmmm...

            You didn't see the point, I guess.

            We can both do this - So, since Apple made the first PDA with their Netwon (or so the community says), How did that do?

            But I do understand your thinking - "Unless Apple puts it out, it hasn't been invented yet"
            William Farrel
    • Toddy, toddy, toddy

      What tech of Microsoft's did Apple copy? Windows? Oh wait, no that was based on stolen code developed by Apple based on Xerox tech they licensed. Zune then? Sure it was the Zune Apple stole... right. The smartphone? What smartphone did Microsoft make? The tablet? What tablet did Microsoft make other than the Surface? And what watch did Microsoft come out with that Apple stole? What about the iPod Nano that could be converted into a watch form factor... oh wait, that does not count because the iPod Nano was not marketed as a watch.

      Come on Toddy, you can do better than this.
      • apple has a very long history of me too copying from Microsoft + OEMs

        From MP3 players to PDAs, to tablets, to smartphones, to smart watches, all done by Microsoft + OEMs, all copied slavishly into me too products by apple.

        apple did NOT license any tech from Xerox. If you have proof to the contrary, please post it. apple paid for a site visit, nothing more. But again, if you can point out where apple paid Xerox to license specific technology, please do. You have that evidence, don't you?

        A court of law disagrees with your assertion that MS stole Windows from apple. Sorry.
        • But didn't the courst also say that Apple

          stole their iPod navigation idea from Creative Labs MP3 player?
          If i remember, Apple had to pay them.

          Sure, its not MS, but proof that Apple does steal at times, and doesn't come up with everything on their own
          William Farrel