Apple on iWatch hiring spree ahead of possible 2014 launch

Apple has reportedly stepped up recruitment for a wrist-mounted device, but there's no word yet on whether the project has got the green light.

More grist for the iWatch rumour mill: Apple is reportedly seeking new talent ahead of the possible launch of its wrist-worn hardware.

Before the iWatch: A history of smartwatches, in pictures

Before the iWatch: A history of smartwatches, in pictures

Tech giants have been trying to get the smartwatch right for nearly two decades. Take a tour starting with the earliest smartwatches right up to the very latest LTE models -- and all the weird and wonderful in between.

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According to a report in the Financial Times on Monday, Apple began "hiring aggressively" in recent weeks. The staff dedicated to its development now number in the dozens, it added.

The newspaper, which cites unnamed people familiar with the matter, says the recruiting shows the project has encountered "hard engineering problems that they've not been able to solve".

However, the iWatch is not yet definitely a goer: according to the Financial Times' sources, Apple CEO Tim Cook may yet decided to ditch the project.

Should he press ahead, the paper reckons it will be at least a year before the Apple-branded wristwear  hits the shelves, and that the iWatch may not be launched until the end of 2014.

While Apple appears to be ramping up its work on the iWatch, it has been laying the foundations for the project for some time now : patent applications on the iWatch name have been made in Japan, Mexico,  Russia, Taiwan and Turkey while the recent hire of Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve to work on "special projects" has been linked with the device.

Cook has expressed his interest in getting into wearable tech: at the recent D11 conference , he described it as "incredibly interesting", adding : "I think it could be a profound area for technology."

Profound, perhaps, but certainly lucrative: one analyst has pegged the potential iWatch market as being worth $6bn .

Unsurprisingly, a number of Apple's competitors are also looking to get into the smart watch market, including Google and Samsung .

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