Bloomberg recently revealed that Apple has a team of 100 people working on its new iWatch, and according to its latest report, the Cupertino company is hoping to launch the device this year. The smart wristwatch, which could make calls, provide maps, and offer a pedometer, is expected to become more profitable than Apple’s much-anticipated television set.
Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen expects the global watch industry to generate more than $60 billion in sales during 2013. That’s not as much as the $119 billion TVs are expected to generate, but the 60% gross margins on watches means they can be four times more profitable.
“This can be a $6 billion opportunity for Apple, with plenty of opportunity for upside if they create something totally new like they did with the iPod — something consumers didn’t even know they needed,” said Chen.
While TVs will generate more than double the revenue watches will this year, a 10% share for Apple in each market would mean gross profit of $3.6 billion for watches, and just $1.79 billion for TVs. So while the Cupertino company’s HDTV will cost significantly more — when it finally launches — it won’t make anywhere near as much profit.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, the iWatch could offer a whole host of clever features, many of which are already available on iOS devices like the iPhone. Some of those under consideration include the ability to make calls and see the identity of incoming callers, and the ability to view maps.
The device could also include a built-in pedometer to record footsteps, and sensors that would allow you to monitor your heart rate.
That all sounds very exciting, but when will the iWatch be available?
Bloomberg’s sources say that Apple is hoping to introduce the device this year. It has already filed at least 79 patents that include the word “wrist,” covering technologies that may make their way into the device — including one for a device with a flexible display, powered by kinetic energy.
Apple is expected to adapt its iOS software to accommodate the device, very much like it did for the tiny iPod nano.
The iWatch is seen as a new avenue of growth for Apple, which could save its share price from its recent rapid decline. Analysts have been expecting the company to announce something new to turn things around, and for some time, it looked like that would be the Apple television.
In recent weeks, however, reports have suggested Apple’s immediate focus is on the iWatch instead, which could allow Apple to compete with Google’s upcoming Google Glass spectacles.
Jony Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of industrial design, has long had an interest in watches, according to Bloomberg. In addition to owning many high-end models himself, he has previously sent his staff to visit watch factories.