Hardly a week that goes that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rumors don't seem to heat up and reports this week suggest a 2014 iWatch launch is looking increasingly realistic.
On Wednesday, Rosenblatt Securities analyst Brian Blair said (via Business Insider) that his Taiwanese supply chain sources confirmed that the iWatch would have a round display. Furthermore, he said the watch will come in multiple models and go into production around July or August.
Apple is apparently very confident about the success of the device -- at least based on Blair's estimates of the company's orders for the iWatch. He said the company expects to produce 18 to 21 million smartwatches in the second half of the year; this is up from his previous estimates of 15 to 20 million.
For comparison, Apple sold about 95 million iPhones and 42 million iPads in the last two quarters. While the iWatch sales (based on Blair's estimates for production) would be well behind the iPhone and iPad figures today, it would be the company's most successful product launch in a new category ever. If Apple sold 18 to 21 million smartwatches in the first two quarters of availability, the figures would easily trump the first two quarters of sales for the initial launches of both iPhone and iPad.
On Thursday, rumors about wireless charging for the iWatch were revived. With the device having limited room for a battery, it has been reported that Apple is unsatisfied with the battery life of early iWatch prototypes, prompting it to explore creative solutions. Various Chinese media reports (via MacRumors) claim that Apple supplier Luxshare has sent Apple wireless charging coils to be certified for use in production of the iWatch. The report does not go into detail about how the wireless charging would be built into the form-factor.
How long can key iWatch details stay secret?
For the most part, iWatch details remain under wrap. This goes contrary to the stream of product leaks regarding the iPhone 6 that have surfaced recently. Is it only a matter of time before we begin to see leaks regarding iWatch? After all, given the scale of Apple's sprawling global supply chain, it's difficult for Apple to keep suppliers from divulging information.
Investors hope the iWatch can bring the surprise factor back to Apple. With the company's last major new product category launch well behind them (the iPad in 2010), the market is looking for evidence the tech giant can still revolutionize new categories in the post-Steve Jobs era.
Apple seems to think it can deliver on this expectation. Apple iCloud and iTunes chief Eddy Cue told Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher on stage at the Code Conference last week that Apple has "the best product pipeline" he has seen in his 25 years at Apple.
That's a big promise. Unfortunately, investors will have to wait a while to find out if the bold statement is true. Rumors indicate the device won't ship until later this year, possibly in the fall.
With Apple shares trading conservatively at 15 times trailing twelve months earnings per share, a blockbuster hit with the iWatch could offer meaningful upside to the stock price.