You may remember Apple CEO Tim Cook teasing major new product categories for Apple to be released in 2014. Technically, that will happen with Apple Pay next month, Apple’s first foray into the mobile payments category, but it is far more likely that Cook had been focusing his teases on the Apple Watch. Earlier this month, Apple debuted the fashion and fitness-oriented smart watch to the same crowd that saw the debut of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. While the Watch was demonstrated, it is obviously not a finished product: it’s not shipping until “early 2015,” according to Apple.
How early in 2015? Nobody knows for sure, but a new profile from The Information says “that Apple would be lucky to ship it by Valentine’s Day.” At 9to5, we’ve been hearing similar whispers. Valentine’s Day is in February, and this could be a great target for Apple to try to hit for the Watch’s launch. That Hallmark Holiday isn’t as strong as a shopping season as the December holidays, but it is still a time that many people seek out expensive or fashionable gifts. So why not the Apple Watch Edition, too? Apple has done product launches around that timeframe before, releasing new iOS device storage capacities and pink-colored models on multiple occasions.
Valentine’s Day aside, the bigger picture here is that many signs indicate Apple missed its own 2014 launch target. As The Information says:
Earlier this year, Apple executives indicated to some employees and others involved in the product that it was expected launch for the holidays. After all, since 2011, Apple has configured itself for once-a-year launches of new versions of its flagship hardware, the iPhone, in time for the Western world’s peak shopping season. But at some point in recent months that changed, according to these people, who surmised that Apple wanted more time on the software and the apps. The Information previously reported some development hiccups, including consideration of a new screen. The inside chatter parallels a shift among analysts as well; in the months before the announcement, many shifted their forecasts from this year to next.
Seemingly confirming this is commentary from Cook and Apple Senior VP of Operations Jeff Williams (who supervised the Apple Watch software and hardware engineering groups) in an interview with Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Asked why the Apple Watch missed a 2014 target, the executives responded:
Williams is unapologetic about the Apple Watch missing the 2014 holiday season. “We want to make the best product in the world,” he says. “One of our competitors is on their fourth or fifth attempt, but nobody is wearing them.” Cook also preaches patience. “We could have done the watch much earlier, honestly, but not at the fit and finish and quality and integration of these products,” he says. “And so we are willing to wait.”
So it seems fairly clear that 2014 was the original, missed target, but Apple is unapologetic about the entire situation. After all, this makes sense. Apple has been teasing a new category for years during the post-Steve Jobs-era, and they need to get it mostly right on version 1.0. Cook has even hinted that his own Apple Watch has yet-to-be-introduced functionality, and we don’t even know the pricing or exact details about the device (beyond the Sport model), so perhaps Apple will announce everything else related to the Watch on their website or at an event early next year.