The latest report says that Apple has about 100 "product designers" working on a wristwatch-like device. The report said that the smart watch "may" perform "some" of the tasks now handled by an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad. The report cited two people familiar with the company’s plans who chose to remain anonymous.
The team spans across departments, including marketing personnel as well as both hardware and software engineers. The developers are reportedly those who have previously worked on the iPhone and iPad. Due to the team's size -- and it has grown in the past 12 months -- the sources suggested that Apple is beyond the experimentation phase in the project's development.
In addition to both this report and a prior report by the New York Times, last week, in a blog post, former Apple employee and human interface developer Bruze Tognazzi stated that an iWatch was inevitable. He said:
The iWatch will fill a gaping hole in the Apple ecosystem. Like other breakthrough Apple products, its value will be underestimated at launch, then grow to have a profound impact on our lives and Apple’s fortunes.
Apple's iPad grew in a similar fashion. Many have said that, with the iPad, Apple created a market segment that most neither knew they needed nor really needed.
The sources named Apple's senior director of engineering, James Foster, as well as another manager, Achim Pantfoerder, as part of the iWatch efforts. However, one of the sources added that Apple has worked on wearable devices to be used for tracking fitness in the past, but none of those were ever brought to market.
Apple isn't the only company examining wearable computing devices. Google hopes to have its Project Glass smart glasses on the market by 2014, and an anonymous Google executive said that the company hopes it will see as much as three percent of its revenue generated by smart glasses by 2015. Olympus is also working on wearable smart devices.
It's unclear how much functionality Apple can pack into a smart watch. The size of the device alone would seem to limit its capabilities. Putting cellular, wi-fi, and more into a watch-sized device would seen impossible if one wants reasonable battery life, always an Apple requirement for any product.
It's possible the smart watch will only allow limited display of alerts and email and be connected to an iPhone or iPad which does the real work. In a way, that could be seen as advantageous to Apple's bottom line, as consumers would be required to buy two devices, not one.