Let the speculation merry-go-round continue. According to a report by Bloomberg, Apple has trademarked the name iWatch — again. This time Japan is the territory, while the trademark covering “products including a handheld computer or watch device” was actually filed with the Japan Patent Office on the 3rd of June but was only made public last week. It follows an unconfirmed report by a Russian newspaper that Cupertino had filed the iWatch trademark in Russia last month.
So, Apple is definitely making this thing, right? Well, maybe, though for now I’m inclined to file this away in rumorware. Trademarks for speculative products are registered by large consumer electronics companies all the time — products that are in a very long pipeline or exist in a PowerPoint presentation only. Besides, if or when Apple does release a smartwatch, timing will be everything.
Despite the tech media’s current Apple narrative that frames the company as desperately needing a new breakthrough product category, unless Tim Cook’s Apple is deviating drastically from the Jobs playbook, the company is/has been likely taking a wait and see approach to an iWatch. Cupertino may well be known as the great innovator, which in hindsight it invariably proves to be, but Apple’s definition of innovation is rarely to be first.
The iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player, though it was the first to utilise that crucial 1.8inch hard drive (“a thousand songs in your pocket”). The iPhone wasn’t the first touchscreen smartphone either, though it utilised capacitive technology and a UI that ensured it was finger-friendly and crucially bundled a data connection at the point of sale. Likewise, the iPad wasn’t the first tablet computer by any measure, but we all know how that worked out. This is a company that has built its second coming on the ability to say “no”.
Or at least, “not yet”.
Cue recent comments from Apple’s CEO. Speaking at the D11 conference, Cook said on the topic of Apple potentially doing a smartwatch or other wearable tech: “There’s nothing that’s going to convince a kid who has never worn glasses or a band or a watch to wear one, or at least I haven’t seen it.”
Of course, “I haven’t seen it” could mean that it doesn’t exist on the market yet from Apple’s numerous competitors (sorry Pebble, Sony and countless others). Or that Cook hasn’t seen it brewing in Apple’s R&D labs either. One thing I’m sure of is that Cupertino won’t sanction an iWatch until the technology’s shortcomings — not least battery life and the UI of a smartwatch — can be addressed. And that could still be quite some time.
For now Apple fanboys, keep calm and carry on.