WSJ: Apple testing iWatch designs with Foxconn

iPhone Wrist (Yrving Torrealba 001)

The New York Times tech columnist Nick Bilton has recycled his December 2011 story of a curved-glass iPod, now claiming in a new piece published this morning that a wearable computer by Apple is actually in the works. An iWatch apparently runs iOS, the story has it, and will stand apart from competition based on Apple’s “understanding of how such glass can curve around the human body”.

Not to be outdone by its chief competitor, the credulous Wall Street Journal just issued its own iWatch report corroborating Bilton’s article and adding a few tidbits of its own…

Jessica E. Lessin, reporting for the Journal:

Apple Inc. 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 company has discussed such a device with its major manufacturing partner Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., one of these people said, as part of explorations of potentially large product categories beyond the smartphone and tablet.

The article goes on to note that Foxconn’s been working on a spate of technologies that could be used in wearable devices.

In particular, the Taiwan-based company has been working to address the challenges of making displays more battery-efficient and working with chip manufacturers to strip down their products. The technologies are aimed at multiple Foxconn customers, this person said.

Conveniently enough, DigiTimes reported in May 2011 that Apple bought expensive glass-cutting machines.

Last August, NetworkWorld reported Apple had been experimenting with a curved-glass iPhone but ditched the idea because it cost a lot to cut shaped glass.

The technology at the time had a lot to do with it. The qualities of the glass at the time had a lot to do with it. These are models – I’m trying to remember a time frame – that were before gorilla glass and before a lot of the other factors.

The technology in shaping the glass, the cost relative to shaping the glass at the time, and some of the design features of this specific shape were not liked.

Hopefully the iWatch won’t look anything like this crazypants concept by CiccareseDesign.

Curved glass iPod (Federico Ciccarese 003)

The prospect of a wearable iOS device that you’d strap around your wrist sounds almost too good to be true.

TechCrunch columnist MG Siegler wonders on his blog what this rumored device might mean for Apple CEO Tim Cook’s position on Nike’s board of directors.

Tim Cook wearing Nike FuelBand
Apple’s boss wearing a Nike Fuelband.
Cook also has a seat on Nike’s board of directors.

Siegler speculates how Cook might find himself in an uneasy situation similar to Google’s then CEO Eric Schmidt who used to have a seat on Apple’s board and had to preclude himself from any meeting where the iPhone project was being discussed.

At first, Schmidt would recuse himself from the parts of meetings where the iPhone was being discussed (once Google’s Android plans were revealed).

Then the conflict became too great. And this eventually led to him stepping down (or being pushed) from the board. Maybe Nike doesn’t view the FuelBand as a massive business to be protected right now, but down the road…

Last December, a sketchy report claimed Apple was collaborating with Intel on a Bluetooth smartwatch with a 1.5-inch display that would debut sometime in 2013.

Until Apple makes its move, we’ll have to do with multitouch watch kits for the previous-generation iPod nano.

Check out this TikTok+LunaTik accessory.

As I opined in my article titled “Why an Apple smart watch is a smart idea”, if done right, an iWatch would represent the realization of a Star Trek Communicator-like wearable computer.

In fact, both iWatch and iTV increasingly look to be Apple’s next disruptive products.

So if both a standalone badass television set and a wristwatch from Apple are coming, you have to ask yourself who the new tiny and huge form factor fit in the existing iDevice ecosystem.


Image top of post via Yrving Torrealba.