Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has promised a new category this year. While the very active Apple rumor mill hasn't come to a clear consensus yet on exactly what this new category will be, most of the leaks, clues, and gossip point to a potential smartwatch, referred to as the iWatch. Here is the latest roundup of recent iWatch rumors along with the important discussion: Could the iWatch really be Apple's "new category?"
The broad nature of the speculated device remains generally the same across most rumors. The iWatch will reportedly run iOS on a 1.5-inch, curved glass display and have biometrics and other sensors built in.
The hurdle, however, seems to be battery life. The small battery needed for the device is turning out to be a challenge. With a rumored targeted battery life of four to five days, zero leaks have suggested that Apple has found a solution yet. Whether or not Apple has found a solution, however, the latest rumors reveal some of the options for battery life and charging the company is considering.
Apple has been testing wireless magnetic induction charging methods for the iWatch, a person briefed on the product recently told The New York Times. Wireless magnetic induction charging technology, which charges a device when it's on a charging plate, is already used in some Nokia smartphones.
Other ideas Apple has experimented with for charging the iWatch, which are likely further out from being ready for the market, include solar and movement-based charging, people close to the efforts of the development of Apple's iWatch told the Times.
Is an iWatch launch likely?
Apple has somehow managed to keep its new product secret. While rumor activity certainly favors the iWatch, other new products in 2014 could include a television or a mobile payments service. Of course, Apple could also launch multiple products in new categories in 2014.
The only thing investors can be sure about at this point is that Apple is, indeed, going to launch a new product in a new category. Responding to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster's question in Apple's first-quarter earnings call about whether Apple will still launch a product in a new category in 2014, Cook said, "Yes, absolutely. No change." Digging further, Munster asked about what kind of trajectory Apple might expect for this new product category. Cook responded vaguely, but also optimistically, "We have zero issue coming up with things we want to do that we think we can disrupt in a major way."
While it's unclear whether an iWatch will be one of Apple's new categories in 2014, Cook has expressed explicit interest in the wearables category before. At the 2013 D11 conference, Cook said he found the category "incredibly interesting" and even called the category "another very key branch of the tree."
An upside bonus
Whether Apple launches an iWatch or not, the very fact that it is working on new categories is good news for investors. Given the fact that Apple's conservative valuation at just 12.5 times earnings, any new trajectory has the potential to be rewarding for investors. Investors who buy at today's conservative valuation get to buy into a company with a massive hoard of cash, a successful line of existing products, and the bonus of the possibility that Apple will manage to disrupt or create yet another industry.
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