Apple's iWatch: Secrecy and the perilous game of predicting the future

Apple's iWatch: Secrecy and the perilous game of predicting the future

Summary: Apple has managed a return to secrecy around its wearable plans – just as it did around the original iPhone launch.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple
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One of the most notable things about the iWatch is the utter lack of solid information about it.

Apart from a few 'people familiar with the matter' type stories, there have been no leaks at all; the lack of component leaks is particularly noticeable. Contrast that with the iPhone 6, where all manner of components have already been (apparently) widely leaked already.

iphone-concept
This is not an iPhone: One of many guesses at how the handset would look before it was launched. Image: ilounge.com

This could mean a couple of things. Firstly, that there is no iWatch, no fitness band, nothing in the pipeline. That would be the most dramatic and unlikely option — that a few rumours and oblique comments had made the rest of the consumer electronics industry stampede into churning out smartwatches to compete with a product that was never going to be built.

What's more, there haven't been any leaks of the now-legendary Apple TV either, so what should we read into that?

Still, in the case of the iWatch, absence of evidence is (probably) not evidence of absence. It is more likely that Apple has managed a return to its old-style absolute secrecy around forthcoming products.

Apple wants a new hit, and wearables is the obvious next market for it to enter. There's plenty of circumstantial evidence around too, such as its fashion and health related hiring spree and new features in iOS 8, pointing towards wearables of some sort on the way.

The lack of leaks also probably means that the iWatch (or whatever it eventually ends up being called) hasn't gone into mass production yet. If there is a wearable at the event in September (and that's a big if), it's much more likely to be a showcase, with the product available sometime down the line; no doubt Apple would like to have something in the shops before the Christmas rush.

Still, it's also worth looking back at the launch of the iPhone to see how wrong speculation about a new Apple product can be. Sure, it was clear for months before it arrived that the iPhone was indeed on the way, but very little detail leaked beforehand (no one was even sure of the name).

Certainly, no images of the new device leaked out, leading to the creation of some — in hindsight — horrendously, comically ugly mock-ups of how it might look, based on patent filings and guesswork. There were slide out keyboards, iPod wheels and sticky-outy antennas aplenty – pretty much every element that Apple didn't put into the iPhone.

At the launch of the iPhone, Steve Jobs even showed off a slide of what the iPhone was not (scroll down to see the iPod-dialphone-iPhone hybrid in all its glory.)

Looking back it's obvious that the expectation was of an design evolution, based on the iPod and the state of the art. The iPhone confounded everyone by being different to all of that.

And amid all the uncertainty about the iWatch, one thing is for sure; when you consider the current (stone age) state of the wearables market, Apple needs to pull off the same trick again.

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Topics: Mobility, Apple

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23 comments
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  • Yawn. 38 Articles ...

    ... of (self confessed) pure guesswork on the future (or past) of the iWatch.

    Is this a record? 38 articles, zero facts?
    Heenan73
    • What would be funny...

      ...is if Apple had no intention of entering the smart watch market at all and all the rumour and speculation was created out of thin air.

      I'm still inclined to believe that this was drummed up deliberately by Apple to force competitors to rush out their own products before Apple had even committed to a design...
      mattyvx
      • What would be even more funny

        If apple had no intentions of making a wearable, and instead the the iWatch and Apple Tv were one and the same.

        iWatch TV!
        I Watch TV
        TeslaTech
      • That's Not Going to Happen

        Think stock values - they have let the rumor mill (and stock prices) run rampant on speculation of an iWatch - Cook even alluded last year to the "interest" in wearables - for them to say "Fooled ya' Bert" now would knock 25% off their stock value - something they could not stand. They would have quelled the rumors before now if that were the case. My bet is they designed and limited produced demos for the unveiling; then going to manufacturing for a mid-November Christmas blitz, all in order to maximize the secrecy effect (possibly to the point of the staged "leak" of iPhone 6 components as magician sleight of hand to make us look away, and drive Samsung/LG/Moto nuts with having to speed up introductions)
        dksmidtx
        • I doubt it

          I doubt the stock run-up has very much to do with the iWatch as so little is known about. We do however have a pretty good idea of what to expect of the new iPhone and it is the estimates of 60-80 million of them selling in the 4th quarter of the year that have driven the stock price.
          rbgaynor
  • Much ado about nothing.

    The breathless speculation will far outstrip the actual demand for this product, if it's even real. Who really wants to start wearing watches again?
    BillDem
    • Well...

      I like watches. I'm wearing one right now. That said, I'm not particularly not excited by the prospect of a smart watch, for a couple reasons:

      1. It's not really "Smart" at all, as it needs to sync with a smart device to function to its fullest potential.
      2. The idea of needing to charge my watch is annoying.
      d20dad
      • edit.

        *not particularly excited. Ignore the double negative. Going to get coffee now.
        d20dad
        • Yup

          Pretty much agree. I'm happy with my Citizen solar powered watch that shouldn't need a new battery for the next 10 years or so. If a smart watch became available that didn't need recharging every day I may be interested.

          Also, well done in beating the grammar nazis, they can be vicious!
          DJL64
    • That's a brave statement.

      Lots of people have ended up looking pretty stupid dismissing demand for Apple products before they're seen, and sometimes even after (e.g. http://youtu.be/nXq9NTjEdTo).

      Say what you will about Apple, but you can't deny that they know how to design, and market, products that appeal to lots of people, despite higher price points and, arguably, less functionality.
      matthew_maurice
    • I will wear a watch

      If it can let me know my blood sugar level.

      I am even willing to replace my iPhone 5S if new iPhone is required to make the watch work.
      pksaha
      • Watches

        You have awaay too much money
        yamo1868@...
  • Pah

    There are no pictures of "the iWatch" because its not THE iWatch, it's just iWatch.

    It's a TV channel.

    How are you going to get pictures of a TV Channel from component manufacturers.

    Or No, hang on. Maybe it's Apple's new home monitoring system. Provides security, heating system management, ..... and it just hasn't leaked because it's not the iWatch that people are looking out for.

    Or maybe iWatch is just a decoy to distract you from noticing the new iCamera or iCar or iRobot.
    Henry 3 Dogg
  • Actually, there being no watch in the pipeline

    is actually the most likely scenario. Tech bloggers started this rumor, and have been feeding it ever since without a shred of evidence.
    baggins_z
  • Also, I find it fascinating

    that it's Apple who desperately needs a new hit. MS is a two-trick pony: Windows and Office. No mention of them needing a new hit. Google is a one trick pony: Search. No mention of them desperately needing a new hit. Top tier PC manufacturers are barely hanging on in a decreasing market. No mention of them desperately needing a new hit. Nope, Apple, the number one tech company in terms of revenue, profit, cash reserves and market cap is the company desperately needing a new hit.
    baggins_z
    • Possibly

      You could argue that Apple's strategy for releasing cheaper devices is a sign that they are reaching market saturation. If this is true, then they need new products if they want to maintain that coveted #1 spot in their industry.
      d20dad
    • Um, what?

      baggins_z you really need to tell Microsoft that their back office products like Windows Server, SQL Server, and Sharepoint are not hits. Also you might want to tell Google that no one uses Android and it is not a hit.
      raindog308
      • They are a blip on the revenue

        and profits MS earns. Less than 5%.
        baggins_z
        • Google makes no money on Android.

          They make money on ads driven by data fed them by Android. Ads that pop when you search.
          baggins_z
    • brainwashed

      If you think that MS and Google are two [one] trick ponies, you don't understand the tech industry.

      It sounds like maybe you get all your news from apple apologists, and see everything through apple colored glasses.
      johnsmith81