Although we're only halfway through the year, 2014 could very well turnout to be the "Year of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)" in technology circles.
Thus far, investors have shown a renewed interest in the world's largest publicly traded company, and for good reason. After issuing its most impressive earnings report in some time, with another likely around the corner, Apple is now pushing full-steam ahead into a second half product launch cycle that should include notable growth drivers like the iPhone 6 and the iWatch.
And speaking of the iWatch, an entirely new set of details have recently emerged that speak to the fact, once again, that Apple is set to raise the bar high in the emerging wearables category.
Inside Apple's iWatch report
On Friday, a story in The Wall Street Journal shed light on several key aspects of Apple's upcoming iWatch that had yet to be discussed. According to the Journal's reporting, the Apple iWatch will come in several different versions, presumably different styles, shapes, and sizes.
This doesn't give investors much in the way of specifics, but Apple investors should still find it encouraging. One of the underappreciated challenges any tech company entering the smartwatch space will have to navigate is that watches are also a fashion accessory, more so than any other major consumer electronics segment to date. In order to win over a mass audience, tech firms like Apple will not only need to create an amazing piece to technology, but also package it in an attractive enough fashion that people will want to wear it. It's a subtle point, but a critical one.
In my mind, the fact that Apple plans to cater to various styles and tastes with the iWatch probably bodes well for its chances at mass adoption. Apple has always excelled at product design, but this could also be a subplot that finally shows where former Yves Saint Laurent Chief Executive Officer and current Apple mystery employee Paul Deneve fits into the iWatch equation as well. That's a bit of plausible speculation, but judging by this new detail the real point is that Apple appears to be keenly aware of the fashion requirements it will need to fulfill with the iWatch..
How many sensors was that?
The Journal report also asserted that Apple's smartwatch design will feature at least 10 integrated sensors that will help Apple achieve a level of biometric and health data monitoring well above what the competition currently offers. This integrated sensor storyline is by no means new, but the fact that Apple plans to pack so many sensors into the iWatch is a new detail to this storyline, and an exciting one at that.
As was the case with the sizes/styles storyline, this new wrinkle also comes up short in the way of specifics, but still helps set a positive expectation for the iWatch. I think it's safe to say that smartwatches have a long way to go to truly fulfill the category's potential, and I've argued plenty of times in recent months that Apple is by far the best suited company to make the kind of "great leap forward" it will require to grow the smartwatch beyond just a niche for enthusiasts. The key here, beyond fashion sensibilities, will be usefulness. And in that regard, the fact that Apple plans to pack 10 or more sensors into the iWatch implies that it has much more than just a heartbeat sensor in store with the iWatch. Again, we don't know what those extra sensors will go toward, but it definitely bodes well for the iWatch clearing the critical usefulness hurdle as well.