KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has provided seemingly accurate information about previous Apple hardware releases (timing non-withstanding), claims that Apple’s much-rumored wearable wrist device will not arrive until late 2014. The analyst pinpoints production to begin sometime in the second half of the year:
Apple may not have adequate resources to develop an iWatch version of iOS because it may require big changes to iPhone and iPad iOS this year. In addition, wearable device components aren’t mature. For these reasons, we think mass production of the iWatch is more likely to begin in 2H14, not 2H13 as the market speculates.
This timeline is notable because previous reports about the rumored device have claimed a release date sometime in late 2013. Bloomberg, a typically accurate source for technology news, previously reported that Apple is eyeing a release by the end of this year.
Kuo also explains why he feels that Apple is developing a wrist-device, not glasses:
Apple will likely enter the wearable device market via iWatch first, not glasses. We think glasses aren’t likely to be mass produced in the next 1~2 years given cost and consumer behavior. Take Google Glass for example. We forecast Jabil will make only around 40k units in 2Q13, a far cry from mass production. We think Apple has accumulated abundant experience in designing wearable products through developing the sixth generation of the iPod nano, and the iPhone has many accessories similar to wrist bands. Moreover, Apple has applied for many curved screen and battery patents, which would be helpful for developing watch-like products.
Multiple reports have noted some potential features for an Apple wrist-device. Rumors and speculation have covered uses such as receiving phone call, message, and social network notifications via the wrist-device in addition to uses for health-related applications. Indeed, Kuo reiterates some of the health-related apps rumors with claims of biometric sensor integration in the device.
In today’s report, Kuo also claims that the device will feature a display based on the iPod nano’s touch screen.
iWatch panel to be 1.5-2.0 inches, and likely to be made by Japanese or Korean supplier. We think a 1.5-2.0 inch panel suits watch applications best. The reason for choosing Japanese or Korean suppliers is that they enjoy closer cooperation with Apple, hence are more likely to become suppliers for Apple’s new products.
iWatch may use iPod nano’s GF2 touch technology and AP. Currently, the iPod nano uses the same GF2 touch technology as used by the iPad mini. Since the size and computing ability requirements of the iWatch are similar to those of the iPod nano, we think iWatch will use iPod nano’s GF2 touch technology and AP.
Earlier this week, a report claimed that Apple is gearing up to test 1.5-inch OLED displays for its wrist device.
Apple recently patented a slap-wrist-band design for a wearable accessory. Earlier this year, we rounded up all of the publicly available tidbits about the upcoming Apple device.
Kuo also believes that iOS device integration and biometrics will be key selling points:
Biometrics to be a focus. With a biometrics function, the iWatch can provide safer and more convenient user identification and offer more health care applications, which would create new business opportunities.
Integration with other Apple products a key selling point. The more secure identification mechanism and a biometrics function that we forecast the iWatch will have are complementary to other Apple products, and will therefore enhance the user’s experience of Apple’s ecosystem.
Apple has several patents for curved glass display and manufacturing technologies that could be useful for such a product. We have also highlighted Apple’s current competition in the market and the skill-sets and interests of Apple’s leadership that could help play into the development of an iWatch.
As for Apple’s comments on such a product, Apple CEO Tim Cook has an interest in wearable devices, but admitted at the 2012 D10 conference that the “book hasn’t been written yet” in regards to wearable devices changing the “behavior” of people. Apple board member Bill Campbell discussed wearable computer devices earlier this year. Cook previously said that Apple would launch major new products this fall and “throughout” 2014.