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Rumor: Apple Building Bluetooth Smart Watch (techcrunch.com)
26 points by jeffpalmer 1758 days ago | hide | past | web | 47 comments | favorite

Really now. I understand there might be some small market for "smart watches," but who, honestly, still wears a watch? And who would want to wear a watch that you will (possibly) have to charge daily? This is a watch in name only.

That aside, I can see benefits to connected devices such as this. I'm just not sure I'd call them watches.

I'd actually be quite interested in purchasing one of these. To address your points:

> Who still wears a watch?

I do. (I'm young, too.) It's nice to be able to tell time by glancing at your wrist rather than fishing through your pockets for your cell phone. Especially if you're at a meeting that's dragging on—you can surreptitiously glance at a watch without being rude; it's significantly more obvious when you pull out your cell phone.

>have to charge daily

I don't sleep with my watch; I imagine most people don't. I'd honestly much prefer a watch that I throw on a charging stand each night. Finding a damn screwdriver that's the right size and hunting down the correct watch battery (if only they'd all just take CR2032s...) is a huge pain, even if it's only once every few months.

Maybe you're right that they're not watches in the traditional sense. But might as well capitalize on the customer familiarity. It is a device on your wrist that tells time.

I wore a watch up until my last year of college (2002-2003). Don't remember why I stopped wearing it (didn't have a cellphone until 2 years later), just that I did. Never once did I have to change batteries "every few months." One of the more advanced watches/stop watches/gizmos I wore lasted six YEARS on one battery. Sure, I didn't sleep with my watch on (at least not intentionally), but the idea of needing to charge it every night? And probably replace it outright after two years because it's a sealed device and the battery can't be replaced? ? That seems wacko.

But I'll admit (slightly off from my first post) there's an obvious market, and that yes - plenty of folks do still wear watches. This whole thing just seems odd.

Now that I think about it you're right—it's been every year or two for me. (On a standard Timex Ironman.)

Your comment made me think about a nice app for your phone. Remember those watches that tickle your skin every x minutes? A mobile app could vibrate every x minutes so that you can tell the time without looking at it.

Edit: ofcourse such an app already exists: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=at.idsoftware.... ;)

I stopped wearing a watch when cellphones were able to send/receive text messages. For me, a watch is too low-tech compared to all the things I surround myself with (iPhone, iPad, MacBook Air, etc.). All it can do is tell time?

I've been longing for a bluetooth (or similar) watch that had deep iPhone integration, looked stylish, and wasn't too expensive. The ones I've been able to find can't match all three.

I'd love:

* tell me what song is playing, allow me to change tracks

* show me the text message I just received

* show me who is calling me, with a button to ignore / send canned response

That said, I always thought the watch market was pretty small. It seems an odd thing that Apple would even be considering it.

But, apparently it's a $46B global market: http://www.prweb.com/releases/watches/clocks/prweb8358884.ht...

I'm curious how that $46B breaks down. It's not like the Apple watch will ever compete with a Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Parmigiani, Frank Muller or Cartier for example. People buy those watches for style and to show off.

Then again, I could totally see some of the high-end watch companies creating exceptionally nice bands for the Apple watch to meet the need for style and showing off.

Whatever they make though, it better be waterproof. A watch that isn't waterproof simply isn't that practical for most people. No one wants to have to fiddle with taking it off their wrist and stuffing it in their pocket at the first sign of rain.

"By product, Luxury watches remains the largest segment in the global watches market. Mass-priced watches represents the fastest growing watches segment, waxing at a CAGR of about 2.6% over the analysis period."

breakdown being:

"Mass-Priced Watches (Under $50), Middle-Priced Watches ($50-$299), Upper-Priced Watches ($300 - $999), and Luxury Watches ($1000 - $5000)."

Somehow I don't see Apple making a watch that's either mass-priced (<$50) or Luxury (>$1,000).

For them to have a sufficient umbrella and make high-end profits (that they are used to) they'd have to be in the "Middle-priced watches" which, at least according to that article, is neither a big pie nor growing.

Then again, Apple's strategy is to disrupt markets by creating new segments, so my guess is if they do release a "watch" (whatever form that takes) it won't fit into one of those buckets above. They'll create their own.

It's not like the Apple watch will ever compete with a Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Parmigiani, Frank Muller or Cartier for example.

Unless Apple manages to build a Bluetooth complication. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complication_(horology)

who, honestly, still wears a watch?

Well, there's always aesthetics/fashion. I wear a (very attractive, IMHO) self-winding watch. As someone else has mentioned, it's actually really convenient compared to getting my phone out of my pocket, but mostly I like the way it looks -- I guess it's a form of functional jewelry.

I think watches are also status markers. Witness the wide variety of vastly overpriced -- for the actual functionality you get -- watches on the market. A 100$ watch probably performs 99.999% as well as a 10000$ watch, but people will buy the latter, because of the Cartier label or whatnot.

I'd love to say that I'm immune from that, but I'm not. A nice watch makes me feel subtly more powerful. Manly. Strong. In control. Etc... I feel a little awkward without it. This is difficult to explain and may be generational.

The aesthetics/fashion/status thing isn't going to be hit with a mass-market iDevice. Apple makes beautiful, even jewelry-like devices but they are solidly mass market and there's nothing to differentiate one owner from another.

A 100$ watch probably performs 99.999% as well as a 10000$ watch

Hell, a fifteen dollar quartz watch will outperform a $20000 Patek Philippe.

This is difficult to explain and may be generational.

It probably is generational. I'm Gen-Y and watches seem like an irrelevance nowadays. I can't think of one of my similarly aged friends who wears a watch.

To be fair I used to wear one, and felt naked without it for a while after the band broke but by that time I was carrying a phone everywhere and I soon forgot about it.

Nearly 69,000 backed the Pebble[0] on Kickstarter so there definitely seems to be a market.


Did you not see everyone go crazy on kickstarter for the IPod nano holders last year? I was personally shocked when I didn't see something in the form of wearable computing from them this year, and think that's the next big trend.

You're right, of course, it isn't a watch. It's a tiny computer strapped to your wrist. Unfortunately few people want to buy a device described as such so it makes more sense to market it as something people can vaguely remember using.

As for the power issue people used to wind their watch every day. Alternately, if they gave it a low enough power screen (like Pebble[1] or something) they might be able to charge it from the motion of the users wrist.

[1] Yes I know pebble uses an e-ink screen and Apple is unlikely to follow suit.

People /used to/ wind their watches every day. I remember having one for years as a kid. Then we invented the battery-powered watch because we realized winding a watch and setting the time every day was a royal pain.

I'd actually be thrilled if Apple started using eInk screens in things, especially something like the iPad Mini. I know they won't too, but if this device is anything like the latest iPod Nano, it /might/ get a few days on one battery charge. Assuming it's real to begin with.

I went on vacation recently where I'd be spending much of my time at the pool and beach. I'm pretty anal about knowing what the time is, so I got myself an $11 Casio watch at Walmart.

I haven't taken it off since. I use it for everything from taking a shower to giving my son a few minutes to finish playing with whatever he is playing with[1]. On the other hand, pulling your phone from your pocket, reaching for it from the desk/counter, and especially "where the hell is my phone" is far too taxing when all you want to do is tell time.

[1] Before the watch, I'd give him the "Alright, it's time for bed — how about you play for 5 more minutes," and just lose track of time which lead to inconsistency, which usually leads to frustration in children. Giving him 5 minutes and then saying "ok time's up" in 1 minute has to be frustrating. Conversely, giving him 5 minutes and letting him keep playing for 15 minutes results in future "I know you're bluffing," attitude.

Granted, sometimes a simple "once you're done playing with x, then it's time for bed," suffices. No need to go all-out Pavlov.

I stopped wearing watches many years ago, shortly after i got my first mobile. Some years later i thought "ah what the hell, get a real watch" and i hate wearing no watch nowadays. I feel like it's a nice looking jewelry, it has a function, it has style and (probably most importantly) in the world full of electronics it is a masterpiece of precision mechanics.

In short, nothing will ever beat the fine art of mechanic movements, i really prefer wearing that to a plain electronic watch: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/69/Russian-...

P.S.: Of course i would never ever wear the smart watch this post is about. I kind of feel ashamed that i did wear casio "calculator" watches as a kid.. horrible :P

I used to not wear a watch, then I started wearing one a year ago and it's such an improvement over using your phone.

The fact that you can instantly see what the time is means that you're always aware of the time. It's improved my timekeepings so much, and I'm rarely late to things any more.

It's really hard to explain but I think an analog clock is far more intuitive than digital.

Interesting. I got rid of my watch for that same reason.

Maybe it's a personality thing, but I felt I looked at my watch too often and that it was symptomatic of a general sense of being a 'slave' to time to an unnecessary degree.

So I got rid of my watch as part of a general de-hasting exercise, and started to be more... flexible, when possible of course. I feel it greatly increased my happiness.

Seems like a semantic point more than anything. Would you really call the device I am transmitting this comment from a phone?

Well, no. And to be fully pedantic, a watch, even a mechanical one, is a miniature computer.

High school. I want to know the time and cell phone use gets you a disciplinary referral. I imagine this applies in ERs and other places cell phones are not allowed. Also I cannot pull my phone out of my pocket without standing up and spending some effort. Watches are easier to use.

Sure, but this device won't help in those situations either. But point taken.

I wear a watch, but as a fashion accessory. Which is of course why Apple isn't going to make a watch.

I don't see why this suddenly appears to be 'revolutionary' when Sony has had this for a long time?[1] Heck you can even buy an Android powered Sony watch WITH THE SAME DESIGN even now!


From the piece: "It won’t be revolutionary, per se — many have already entered the smart watch space"

Anyway, I would buy this. I stopped wearing a watch when I got my first cell phone back in the late 90's but recently (last year) started wearing an iPod nano as a watch. I use it for listening to the radio/music during my commute and it's great.

It's also a conversation piece as most people haven't seen anything like it and the idea of a multi-touch interface on a watch blows their minds. The only drawback is a lack of bluetooth connectivity, I yearn for the ability to get data/updates from my phone while it's pocketed or stream music to an external device from my 16gb watch. Also there is no audio output except for the headphone jack which makes timers/alarms pointless unless you always have headphones on.

It's really to bad that nobody has hacked the 6th gen nano as it would be great for home-brew. Something else I want is a "stealth" bootable usb device on my wrist. :o)

Who claimed it was revolutionary? In fact, from the article: "It won’t be revolutionary, per se — many have already entered the smart watch space — but Apple has a knack for making niche devices mainstream.", which is an assessment I agree with. The iPhone and iPad also weren't "revolutionary" by your standards; there were plenty of smart phones and tablets on the market before then. But Apple certainly popularized the smart phone and the tablet pc. They could potentially do that again with smart watches.

I agree that "revolutionary" is a little strong given that its just a rumor. However, the first iPhone is frequently described as revolutionary despite being far from the first smartphone/touchscreen smartphone. Given the sad state of the current smart watch market, apple's smart watch could be considered revolutionary. (when it exists and provided its a huge improvement).

Sony Mobile (formerly Sony Ericsson) have been making various Bluetooth watches since 2006

I think the Sony smart watch needs to be linked to a smartphone to be useful, while the Motorola MOTOACTV can used as a standalone device.


Spoiler alert, Apple constantly build various prototypes to toss around ideas, most of which never make it past that stage.

I have gone the complete opposite direction of the many questioning who wears a watch anymore. Recently I picked up my first automatic, a Seiko of course. I have worn it for about 2 months now, and am about to tear into it. There are a lot of sites that sell after market hands, faces and of course straps. The movement I picked up is well documented and will allow me to get into it without too much problem. There is something magical about a device that requires no power other than being worn. It tells decent time, but loses a few seconds a month. Thats part of the charm of it. Can your GPS Mobile device tell better time? Of course it can. But that isn't really the point. After only two months, I feel quite an attachment to it and actually feel naked without it. I do use it functionally though. A quick flick of the wrist will always be faster than pulling a phone out of the pocket, pushing a button and putting it back in your pocket. There is of course the aesthetic/fashion aspect as well. Currently I have a nice nato strap which has received a ton of compliments. After many years of no watch and relying on PDA's and Smart Phones, I can safely say I am now a watch wearer for life.

I also wear a watch in the form of the Nike Fuelband. It sleeps when I'm not actively looking at it, so the battery lasts several days. The clasp is also a USB connector, so it just plugs into my laptop when the battery gets low. 30 minutes later and im good for another few days.

I also frequently get complements on it because it looks like a sleek wristband until the LEDs light up.

I would love to see more wearable accessories go this route and conserve power until I actively look at or wake up the device.

If someone added streaming music or mp3 functionality that could pipe music to a Bluetooth headset, that would be something I would definitely pay money for.

I remember the Fossil Write PDA(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fossil_Wrist_PDA)

The charging was a problem, but I couldn't find a killed application or use for it that wasn't covered by a regular watch. The only thing I used it for was a watch!

I think that these products face an existential crisis that asks "what can a watch do better than my Android cellphone?"

As they should. This is a sector that has truly suffered for innovation. I've tried to use two or three between a Sony watch to a palm connector watch. Nike has done a pretty cool thing with their sport bracelet, but it fails on Android horribly. At least make an device/app that does a crap load more than track forward motion and time. PLEASE do so.

Doesn't seem too likely to me, or at least it would be a fairly significant reversal of Apple's approach to things. It's such a niche market. That's not the kind of space Apple cares to play in it. Where's the opportunity for the kind of mass-market world changing that Apple likes to focus on?

I think it depends on what the intended use is. A watch would be a waste of time. But I suspect this device will primarily be used for easily composing and viewing text messages without taking one's phone from one's pocket/purse. I expect texting will soon be the dominant form of communication.

If Apple is smart, they will build only the watch face and allow people to install it in any number of 3rd party wristbands ala the iPod Nano. In fact, I would wager that their entrance into this market is a direct response to the popularity of using the 6th Generation iPod Nano as a watch.

I actually like the idea of having an smart watch, but the problem I see with the technology is the battery time, I don't really want to be charging my watch every 8 hours, I don't want to charge it at home, and at work. The more you can do with the watch the less it's battery will last.

If this is a real thing, I'm sure the watch will be a mostly dumb display that gets "smart" by connecting to your iPhone/iPod/whatever.

Something like an ARM Cortex-M4 hooked up to an OLED screen with a bluetooth radio for talking to the devices that do the real heavy lifting. You wouldn't need to recharge the battery on something like that every 8 hours.

"Apple has long had a small hold on the watch market thanks to its iPod nano, which is easily attached to a wrist band turning it into a full-functioning watch."

Err, for small, you mean 'infinitesimal'. I don't think I've seen anyone, ever, wearing a nano as a watch.

I remember thinking when the iPhone rumors were swirling that if apple DIDN'T build a phone then they would have to be complete idiots. therefore they were obviously working on a phone.

This watch will not be used primarily to tell the time. It will be used primarily to read and compose text messages, possibly with a curved touchscreen for better ergonomics.

evn smlr kbrds, lol?

Then again people got used to texting on T9...

I foresee a flop.

No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame.


A smart phone bears little resemblance to a phone and I suspect a smart watch will be similar. There are already a bunch if amateur attempts but one from apple might be big hit, as MP3 players wane in popularity possibly this could be something new for Apple. I'd give it a try..

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