Toward the end of last week, the Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) rumor mill took iWatch speculation to a whole new level. But the latest rumors about Apple's alleged smartwatch didn't come from Apple fan blogs. Instead, the central sources were The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.
What are the new reports saying?
On the product's timeline (citing sources familiar with the matter), both Reuters and The Wall Street Journal predict mass production for the iWatch to begin within the next few months. And a launch will come as early as October, they estimate.
On its form-factor and hardware, contrary to early speculation that the display would be round, Reuters is asserting that the iWatch will be produced with a surprisingly large 2.5-inch "slightly rectangular" display. The Journal still says the device will come in multiple screen sizes.
"The source added that the watch face will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape, and will feature a touch interface and wireless charging capabilities," said Reuters' Michael Gold.
And probably most interesting of all among the newest details of the alleged watch is that the Journal says its sources claim that the iWatch sports "more than 10 sensors to track and monitor health and fitness data." Chinese website Laoyaoba (via GforGames) asserts that some of the iWatch biometric sensors will even monitor complex health metrics like blood pressure and blood glucose.
The Journal says a contact from one of Apple's component suppliers is predicting Apple will ship 10 million-15 million smartwatches by year-end.
How big is the opportunity?
While the market for smartwatches is small today, the nascent segment is ripe for more rapid adoption -- especially if Apple gets into the race. A number of industry research reports suggest the market is about to take off. NextMarket Insights, for instance, predicts annual shipments will grow from a total of 15 million smartwatches this year to 373 million annual shipments in 2020.
But due to Apple's enormous size, it's going to take a massive success to move the needle. The iWatch business will need to become comparable to the iPad or Mac business in order to meaningfully impact Apple's lucrative bottom line. With a $550 billion market capitalization and $37 billion in earnings in the past twelve months, the iWatch will need to be a blockbuster success for the device to impact the market outlook for the business.
Of course Apple has an excellent track record of entering new product categories, making the success of the Apple-branded smartwatch fairly likely. The last two major new products Apple launched were the iPhone in early 2007 and the iPad in early 2010.Can the so-called iWatch help Apple repeat history?