There is a chance that Apple may be forced to postpone the launch of the hotly anticipated “iWatch” or health band — perhaps pushing it back to 2015, according to financial analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, as reported by AppleInsider.
Apple apparently is facing wide-ranging production issues involving components, system design, manufacturing, and integration between hardware and software.
In addition, there have been dozens of rumors surrounding Apple’s investment in manufacturing facilities that can produce super-hard sapphire glass. Recent rumors suggest that the next iPhone 6 in a 4.7-inch size won’t have sapphire glass while a 5.5-inch version might, and that the 5.5-inch iPhone might be delayed. Or that no iPhone 6 is going to get it this year (wait for an iPhone 6s), or that the use of sapphire glass is targeted for the iWatch.
Of course, it should be noted that Apple has never said that it would deliver an iWatch or a smartwatch or even a health or fitness-oriented band, much less what any of the specs could be for an “iPhone 6.”
What Apple has said at various points this year, both through iTunes SVP Eddy Cue and CEO Tim Cook, is that the lineup for new Apple products in 2014 has never been stronger — hinting that Apple will deliver at least one innovative new product sometime this year.
Apple is extraordinarily cagey about revealing anything. In fact, the only reason Apple’s top brass even hinted at anything is likely to put a damper on analyst and industry pressure (wailing) to give the world something cool and new.
Still, most every analyst, journalist and Apple enthusiast is expecting to see Apple deliver the predicted iWatch in September or October.
Jokes, Expectations, and Wall Street Fallout
Well-connected Apple watcher John Gruber earlier this monthsaid offhandedly that it would be funny if the Motorola 360 smartwatch didn’t ship until “after Apple announces their wrist wearable thing next month.”
A few rumor sites took the comment as knowledge on the matter, but Gruber was quick to brush it off as just a joke.
However, Apple’s Health app for iOS 8 — announced earlier this year at its Worldwide Developers Conference — is pretty much a lock for delivery around Apple’s media event scheduled for Sept. 9.
HealthKit, also announced at WWDC, will let developers create apps that can share data with the app, which means that non-Apple fitness bands or health monitoring devices could feed the app, too. Obviously, this is a prime moment to introduce a health-oriented smartwatch, right?
Sure as heck seems like perfect timing for Cook to throw down an iWatch on stage Sept. 9 and yell, “BAM!”
Whatever the method of reveal, most of the tech-watching world utterly believes that Apple — after years of development, patent fillings, and the quiet hiring of watch industry experts — will unveil a wrist wearable thingy in September or October of this year.
What if the iWatch Doesn’t Show Up?
There are a few ways that a missing iWatch could create tremors across the tech world this fall. First, fickle Wall Street analysts could turn on Apple, citing concerns over the company’s ability to enter new product categories.
In this scenario, the success and predicted sales success of the iPhone 6 and any new iPads could temper an Apple stock panic — or give investors an excuse to dump the stock, moan about Apple, watch the stock fall, and then buy it again in 2015 when Apple finally comes to the wearable party.
So, that new all-time high in stock price that Apple achieved this week, adjusted for the split earlier this year? Well, that could be erased, giving the Cook haters a new reason to bash him.
On the flip side, “missing” a prime iWatch delivery time frame could give smartwatch competitors a new angle for dissing Apple to help sell their own smartwatches. I’ve got to admit, in the absence of a fall iWatch debut, I’d be working on campaigns showing people doing cool things with their existing smartwatches while Apple lovers stand in line for something they know they can’t get until sometime in 2015. If the competition wanted to get brutal, they’d have a new angle for it.
The smartwatch space is even more complicated, though.
There’s a good chance that smartwatches won’t explode in popularity until Apple brings both an excellent product and an eye-opening marketing campaign that reveals why a smartwatch or health band is so cool and necessary.
Apple’s ability to generate product awareness in the general public is unparalleled, which makes it easier for competitors, too. Heck, Microsoft’s strongest marketing ploy for its Surface Pro 3 tablet/laptop hybrid is to compare it to the Apple MacBook Air.
None of this means anything, of course, if Apple reveals an iWatch that’s ugly, misguided, too expensive, or too limited. If Apple fails to charm, it will cause a heckuva lot of tech-oriented analysts to rethink the size and scope of the wearable technology fad, which likely would flatten out expectations in the short term and extend the length of time it will take for wearables to take off and create a multibillion dollar product category.
So, if an iWatch doesn’t show up this fall, will the wearable sector dissolve in chaos? Maybe not hyperbolic chaos, but if Kuo’s prediction/warning comes to pass, Cook and company most certainly will face a new round of Apple bashing.