Update: Swatch has denied the claim, in a statement to Reuters.
A new rumor that popped up today from VentureBeat claims that Apple is working with Swatch and Timex to create different styles of its upcoming iWatch. The rumor puts Apple’s wearable plans in-line with Google’s: the Mountain View company makes the Android Wear software that powers hardware from a variety of vendors.
While it’s true that Swatch teamed up with Microsoft to create an ill-fated smart watch in 2004, it doesn’t seem likely that Apple is poised to join forces with any third party to create its own entry to this market. Here’s why…
First, if we know one thing about Apple, it’s that the company rarely hands over control of hardware or software to a third party. Sure, there are instances like iOS 8’s HomeKit where iOS is designed to work with third-party hardware, and of course CarPlay allows automakers to incorporate the iPhone into future models, but there’s a key difference between those examples and the iWatch. CarPlay and HomeKit don’t change the software on the phone, they just allow it to speak to certain types of accessories.
What’s being suggested here with the collaboration between Swatch, Timex, and Apple would be more akin to Apple partnering with Samsung and LG to put iOS on a variety of handsets from those companies. It doesn’t fit Apple’s strategy.
Second, Swatch really doesn’t like the idea of Apple creating something called the “iWatch.” In fact, the two companies are currently tied up in legal proceedings over just that. Swatch already makes its own “iSwatch,” and argues that Apple could damage its trademark by releasing a similarly named device. If Swatch had any clue as to Apple’s plans for the product (or its name), it hardly seems plausible that they’d currently be trying to block Apple’s efforts. (Conspiracy theorists, now is your chance to say this legal spat is actually a red herring to cover up the fact that the two companies are working together!)
Apple was recently granted a patent for a smartwatch device that it refers to as the “iTime.” While this name may not be the one that will eventually be presented to the public, one thing is certainly clear: Apple has its own ideas about where the iWatch hardware is going, and it doesn’t seem to involve a third party at all.
There could be a bit of truth here, though. Perhaps the companies are partnering for some reason other than hardware development. You may recall that Apple has already made a few hires from the watch industry to help market the upcoming device, so perhaps the company still feels that it needs a little help in figuring out exactly how to market such a device. Apple has also gained the support of former Nike FuelBand team members, so perhaps the connection to Swatch and Timex is in a smaller manner.
Of course, as 9to5Mac has previously reported on several occasions, Apple is also hiring from other fields—from fashion to fitness—to focus its efforts on creating not only a watch, but a next-generation health and fitness device. Whatever they’re cooking up, we’ll finally get some solid answers this fall, as the iWatch is expected to be announced to the public in October.