While rumors of a wrist-worn Apple device — an iWatch — have circulated for some time, this week those rumors gained a little more credence following anonymously sourced reports in both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. The Times stated that “Apple is experimenting with wristwatch-like devices made of curved glass, according to people familiar with the company’s explorations.” The WSJ wrote that the company “is experimenting with designs for a watch-like device that would perform some functions of a smartphone, according to people briefed on the effort.”
The Times has a few more interesting bits of circumstantial evidence — hardly compelling — but worth noting: Apple CEO Tim Cook is a fan of the wrist-worn activity tracker Nike FuelBand and Apple’s SVP for Technologies Bob Mansfield is “engrossed by devices” that share information “back and forth from the human body to the phone, including the Nike FuelBand and Jawbone Up.”
Let’s pretend for a moment that the iWatch rumors are true.
Like many of us, Cook and Mansfield only have two wrists — do you think they want to wear two different wearable devices? Given Nike’s longstanding relationship with Apple — Nike+ is embedded in Apple’s smallest iDevices now — it seems much more likely that Apple will partner with Nike to integrate much of the FuelBand’s functionality into an iWatch. Nike has taken a platform approach to its Nike+ efforts and it seems likely that Apple will want to continue to support its partner in fitness should it move into its territory with a wristworn device.
Wristworn devices were everywhere at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, as health economist and Health Populi blogger Jane Sarasohn-Kahn aptly pointed out earlier this year. MobiHealthNews rounded-up a number of the wristworn activity trackers in our CES slideshow last month. Besides the two high-profile ones Apple executives are apparently fans of, a number of devices aim to take the place of the once popular wrist watch: Basis Band, Fitbit Flex, Fitbug Orb, Spree, Pebble Watch, Mio Alpha, and Amiigo — among them.
There are so many companies with fitness-focused bracelet devices angling for marketshare now — and, so far, Apple isn’t. Will Apple launch an iWatch that beats them all to the wrist?