First, The New York Times reported that Apple was working on some sort of curved-glass smartwatch, a wearable computer that would presumably do a lot of the things iPhones and iPads do. Then The Wall Street Journal's sources said the same thing. Now a third confirmation has arrived, with Bloomberg reporting that, yes, Apple is working on a sparkly new gadget you can wear around your wrist.
Bloomberg says that 100 product designers are already working on the not-so-secret project, which suggests the device is pretty far along in its development cycle. Rumors suggest the electronic band will utilize a new type of bendable, curved Gorilla Glass that users will be able to swipe and perhaps even talk into.
As we've noted, Apple boss Tim Cook has been spotted in the past wearing Nike's FuelBand — the best-selling fitness bracelet that thrust the shoemaker to the top of Fast Company's Top 50 most innovative companies 2013 — while the success of Kickstarter-sponsored smartwatches like the Pebble show that a market for wrist-mounted computing has a lot of potential.
Industry analysts certainly seem to like the idea. "The iWatch will fill a gaping hole in the Apple ecosystem,” Bruce Tognazzini, a technology consultant and former Apple employee, said in a blog post last week. "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." Analyst Katy Huberty says that Apple's entry into this new market could potentially drive an additional $10 billion to $15 billion in revenue for the company each year.
Critics and investors have been crying for a breakthrough product from Cook ever since he officially took the company's reins in 2011. Murmurs of an Apple television set and an interactive car dashboard have both proven largely empty, at least so far. Wearable computing is an open game: While Google seems intent on developing a new device for your face, Apple appears to be going down a different path with personal electronics for your wrist.
With three big news organizations independently confirming the existence of the same gadget, it's pretty safe to say that an Apple iWatch is probably happening. The question now is: Would you wear one?