Apple (AAPL -0.37%) investors are biding their time until Tuesday's media event. Is Apple also hoping consumers will be buying its time, too?

The chances that Apple will unvei a smartwatch on Tuesday are slim. This will the iPhone's day to shine. We may get an update to the Apple TV set-top box and a few minor announcements, but that may be about it. 

The days of "one more thing" mind-blowing surprises are gone, and not just because Steve Jobs is gone. We have too many inroads into Apple's supply chain. If the consumer-tech giant is working on something, someone in Asia is talking. We no longer need to guess. We no longer need to find a prototype smartphone left behind in a beer hall.

We no longer get the joy of dreaming.

However, just as nobody ever gets everything that Apple announces right ahead of time, there's a glimmer of hope that the company everybody will be watching on Tuesday may introduce the inevitable iWatch.

Let's go over a few reasons Apple may not have much of a choice.

1. Everybody's doing it
When Pebble used Kickstarter to bankroll the smartwatch revolution, it was only a matter of time before the big boys crashed the party. 

They're here. 

Let's go over the developments that have taken place in just the past few days.

  • Giga Om revealed last week that Google (GOOGL 1.52%) had quietly acquired smartwatch maker Wimm Labs last year. 
  • On Wednesday, Qualcomm (QCOM 1.25%) unveiled Toq. The smartwatch showcases Qualcomm's display technology.
  • Also on Wednesday, Samsung peeled back the curtain on its entry into this suddenly crowded market. Galaxy Gear works with only a few Samsung devices, but it offers dozens of applications and features, including a camera, that aren't available elsewhere.

Your turn, Apple.  

2. Smartwatches are about attraction and retention
A popular argument explaining why Apple and Android will remain the only mobile operating systems that matter is that loyalty is harvested through app ecosystems. Someone who has bought a ton of Apple App Store or Google Play Store downloads will be hesitant to switch platforms.

Folks spending $300 on Samsung's Galaxy Gear aren't going to leave the Samsung product line during the next upgrade cycle.

Apple can't ignore that. Android's market share has already grown from 69% to 79% over the past year. If the world's largest smartphone maker -- Samsung -- is leaning on a new smartwatch that works only with its devices, Apple doesn't have much of a choice.

3. This is the new proving ground for innovation
Apple innovates. The iPod, iPhone, and iPad inspired copycats, largely because they raised the bar in categories that were in their infancy. 

Apple has a chance to define this market. All of the products that have been announced so far have their shortcomings. Is a smartwatch with a bendable display, long battery life, and a laundry list of features unrealistic? 

Apple has a history of making a difference, and it had better hurry here. 

Time's starting to run out.