A weekend flurry of speculative articles stoked the Apple "iWatch" rumor mill, perhaps indicating that Cupertino is secreting some well-placed leaks to pump up interest in what it hopes might be its Next Big Thing™.
The Wall Street Journal, for one, reports (paid subscription required) that "people briefed on the effort" tell them that Hon Hai Precision Industry – aka Foxconn – is in talks with Apple about "a spate of technologies that could be used in wearable devices" such as the rumored iWatch.
The New York Times, for their part, received their iWatch info from "people familiar with the company's explorations" who are "not allowed to publicly discuss unreleased products" – nudge, nudge, wink, wink. Those worthies said that the iOS-based device would be constructed of curved glass that wraps around a user's wrist.
Far be it for The Reg to say so with any degree of certainty – Apple? certainty? surely you jest – but the appearance of two iWatch-oriented articles appearing on the same day in highly regarded news outlets does cause our media-manipulation detectors' VU meters to pin.
Wearable computing devices are the new hotness in these days of what mobile-device manufacturers would like you to think of as the Post-PC Era, with Google Glass being perhaps the best-known example.
Just last week at the Common Platform Technology Forum, IBM's chip honcho Gary Patton waxed enthusiastically about the future of wearable electronics, revealing fully-depleted planar SOI transistors that his team had created on a flexible substrate perfect for any number of different wearable devices. "So now we're getting into what I would call the science-fiction era," he told his audience of deep-geek chipheads.
An iWatch that simply allowed you to make calls by communicating with your smartphone would be more of a Dick Tracy–style wrist radio than what we might these days call science fiction. But Chester Gould, Tracy's creator, envisioned that two-way radio 60 years or so ago, and science fiction marches on.
Exactly what capabilities Apple's rumored iWatch might have was not detailed by either the WSJ or NYT's sources. Would it interface with the iPhone as does Pebble Technology's "first watch built for the 21st century?" Would it use Apple's Siri sometimes-it-works-sometimes-it-doesn't "intelligent personal assistant?" Would it have its own spate of apps on the iTunes App Store, or would it merely access information received by an iPhone, such as text messages, navigation info, and the like?
The sources were silent. But remember, iWatch rumors have been bandied about not only since late last year and early this year, but surfaced as early as 2000, when Apple was said to be developing a watch that ran Mac OS, powered by a Transmeta processor.
Needless to say, that didn't happen. But if the WSJ's "people briefed" and the NYT's "people familiar" are, indeed, Apple-sanctioned leakers, it's entirely possible that a Cupertinian something-or-other might appear in the not-too-distant future. Or not.
But with Apple's stock price grumbling along on this Monday afternoon at well below $500 per share, Cook & Co. might have decided to excite a bit of investor interest – and hope – for Cupertino's aforementioned Next Big Thing™. ®