Saturday, December 27, 2014

Is Apple Prepping a "Wearable Computer"?

While the Pebble Smart Watch seems almost ready for sale, its' reign may be short lived. Apple is jumping into the "wearable tech" market too, says a well-connected industry analyst.

Is Apple Prepping a "Wearable Computer"?

The Pebble
The Pebble

While the Pebble Smart Watch seems almost ready for sale, with millions of eager buyers, its’ reign may be short-lived.  Industry analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray says Apple is likely to jump into the “wearable tech” market with an Apple branded smart watch in the next year or so.

 The Pebble was the big “crowd sourcing” hit of 2012, earning more than $10 million in funding/advance orders  through Kickstarter. Pebble recently won design approval by the Federal Communications Commission. Its’maker is taking advance  orders at $150. 

The concept  here is a watch that connects to a nearby iPhone or Android smartphone using Bluetooth, to alert you with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages. The Pebble’s display can also show the messages from Android devices, though not from  iProducts – a shortcoming Apple would surely fix in its’ variant. Pebble will be loadable with special apps, some linked  to the phone’s GPS, to help navigate your bike trip, track exercise  or gauge the distance to the golfing green.  Of course, the appearance of the watch face and its “audibles” will be infinitely customizable. Might also be able to change the channels on a Bluetooth-enabled TV.

Smart watches have been around for a while. Casio was first in the game, Sony Ericcson introduced one just a year ago that works strictly with Android mobile devices. The big drawback to date – and one the Pebble won’t really fix – is that these things are  kinda clunky, not all that attractive unless you have a big wrist and like the “rugged oversized”  watch look.  That’s one area where Apple and its’ parts partners (Intel is reportedly involved) could eat the competitors' lunch, just as the company did with the iPad. Not the first tablet computer on the market, but the first slim, light and intuitive pad that people were panting to use.

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
About this blog
Jonathan Takiff covers all manner of high tech gadgets – and the entertaining stuff you play on them – for the Philadelphia Daily News, philly.com and the McClatchy Tribune News Service. Reach Jonathan at takiffj@phillynews.com.

Jonathan Takiff Daily News Columnist
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