Yet Another Buzz-Generating Report Surfaces About Apple’s Smart Watch

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The third report in a week has surfaced about the Apple smart watch. Bloomberg just published a story citing two unnamed sources who say that the company has a team of about 100 product designers working on a “wristwatch-like device that may perform some of the computing tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad.” It comes just a few days after articles, also citing anonymous people from within Apple, were produced by the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

According to the Bloomberg report, the size of the team has grown in the past year, which indicates that the watch has moved into the development phase, and includes not just software and hardware engineers who previously worked on the iPhone and iPad, but also members of the marketing group–obviously important if Apple wants to start selling the gadget soon.

So why are stories about the Apple watch ramping up now? While Apple was once extremely secretive about products in development, its attitude towards media leaks has softened since the days when they sent law enforcement agents after wayward editors. Allowing well-timed leaks about major projects is also a strategic boost for Apple. As Philip Elmer-DeWitt noted on CNN, these two publications are “Apple’s go-to outlets for leaks from within the company.” The Bloomberg report goes into more detail, including naming two key figures on the team: James Foster, senior director of engineering, and Achim Pantfoerder, another manager. It also divulged that Apple has worked on wearable fitness-tracking devices in the past (similar to products by Nike and FitBit), but did not bring them to market.

Elmer-Dewitt offered several theories as to the reasoning behind the timing of the leaks, including to deflect attention from Google Glass, distract from the cash distribution story and to boost its stock price, which has fallen more than 30 percent since hitting a high of $705 in September thanks to slowing sales growth as Apple struggles to ward off competition for its mobile devices from Samsung and other companies. Either way, it’s likely that these reports are less a matter of loose lips (the anonymous sources cited by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg) and more a part of Apple’s efforts to build buzz.