The mystery product that is the iWatch probably won't debut until 2014 thanks to component issues and a full schedule for Apple. This latest speculation comes from a Wall Street analyst who also predicts the watch will have biometric capabilities. A new round of guessing regarding what features the watch will actually have -- including the ability to tell time -- is now underway.
Will we see an iWatch in 2014?
Ming-Chi Kuo thinks so. In a research note this week, the KGI Securities analyst predicted that Apple had too much on its plate in 2013 to introduce a smartwatch, but is readying the device for next year.
According to Apple Insider, Kuo said that the company's entry into the wearable computer market will be a device that attaches to the wrist, but it will not be positioned as a watch or as a device that displays information from other Apple products.
The device will have a 1.5 to 2-inch GF2 touch display -- as is used on the iPad Mini and iPod Nano -- and include a "secure user identification mechanism," as well as biometric functionality, the analyst said.
Another drag on bringing the device to market, Kuo wrote, is a scarcity of parts for the unit, which is why he doesn't expect manufacturing to ramp up until the second half of 2014.
Kuo appears more certain that an iWatch is on the drawing board than some other Apple watchers.
"Anybody who professes to have any visibility to what Apple is up to is making it up," Gartner Research Vice President for Mobility Van L. Baker told MacNewsWorld.
"They don't share information with anybody, and I don't think they give their suppliers enough information to accurately predict what they're going to do," he said.
"In fact," Baker added, "I think there's active disinformation distributed by them."
However, an Apple wearable could have some appeal in the market -- if it had the right features, he noted.
"If it's a watch that's integrated with the iPhone and can do things like display email headers, notifications, calendar items and all of that without going to your phone, that is potentially a ground-breaking product," he said.
"If it's just a watch, who cares? We've had those before. They all failed."
Not First One in the Pool
Pairing the watch to a cellular device is almost a necessity. "It doesn't make sense to put a cellular radio in a watch because then you have to pay for a data plan and a number and connectivity for yet another device," Baker said. "I don't think consumers will be very interested in that."
While there is interest in a watch that can be connected to a smartphone, Apple isn't likely to jump into a largely untested market, noted Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies.
"Apple lets other people put technology in the market to see what the opportunity is," he told MacNewsWorld. "They didn't invent the MP3 player or smartphone or the tablet."
With all three of those devices, Bajarin said, "they watched the market develop and when they saw it was a significant opportunity, they jumped in with something that was better than the first or second generation of any of the products."
While the likelihood of Apple introducing a watch is high, Bajarin said there are no indications that such a product is going to happen.
Product of the Imagination
Apple may already have the prototype for a watch with its iPod Nano, said Michael Morgan, a mobile devices analyst with ABI Research.
"It can't just be a Nano with a wristband, but it doesn't have to be much more that," he told MacNewsWorld.
The Nano has the right size, decent battery life and a cohesive operating system. "All you need to do is add some sensors to it, and you're there," he said. "So it's not a very big leap for Apple to get there."
Moreover, with arch rival Samsung already announcing plans to enter the wearable market, and Apple's desire to find another market segment to innovate in there's more than a 50 percent chance the watch will happen.
Not everyone agrees with that prediction. "The Apple watch isn't a product," Trip Chowdhry, managing director for equity research with Global Equities Research, told MacNewsWorld.
"It's the product of someone's imagination," he added. "Apple isn't going to use its R&D dollars for something that doesn't improve people's lives."