Apple Watch: 5 Facts and Rumors Making the Rounds
Apple rumormongers breathed a collective sigh of relief last month when the Cupertino-based company finally confirmed that the fabled Apple smartwatch was than just a fever dream. Rumors about Apple’s development of a smartwatch first emerged in 2012, when China’s Tech163 website cited supply chain sources that claimed that the iPhone maker was working on a wrist-worn device with a 1.5-inch OLED screen. Since then, Apple watchers (no pun intended) have been on the lookout for an iOS-based smartwatch — or “iWatch,” as it was widely referred to — as rivals like Samsung brought nearly a half-dozen different models to market.
Of course, just because Apple confirmed the existence of the Watch didn’t mean that the intense interest and speculation that has been focused on this device for so many years simply disappeared. And Apple’s presentation of the device raised as many questions as it answered. Although Apple happily showed off the design of the Apple Watch’s hardware and a few of its software capabilities, the company remained mum about many of the device’s technical specifications. Apple also declined to provide a complete price list for all the various models, or offer a precise release date. In other words, there is still plenty of mystery surrounding the Apple Watch.
Thanks to this general lack of detailed information, there is plenty of ongoing speculation about the Apple Watch. While unconfirmed rumors from supply chain leakers and unnamed insider sources should always be taken with a grain of salt, there has also been some interesting Apple Watch information revealed by none other than Sir Jony Ive himself. Here are five recently revealed facts and rumors about the Apple Watch that have been making the rounds in the media.
LG Display will supply AMOLED display for Apple Watch
The source: Korea’s LG Display will supply the AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display for the Apple Watch, according to insider sources cited by the Taiwan-based DigiTimes. DigiTimes’ sources also claimed that LG Display won the privilege to be the sole supplier of the AMOLED panels for the Apple Watch after beating out Samsung Display.
“Apple will receive about five million AMOLED panels for the device a month throughout 2015, with the Apple Watch expected to be released within the first quarter,” stated unnamed sources at LG Display. “Apple aims to sell upwards of 50 million Apple Watches in 2015.”
The background: This report aligns with recent claims made by market research firm NPD DisplaySearch. According to the firm’s report, the Apple Watch will feature a plastic AMOLED display due to the advantages it offers in durability, weight, and flexibility.
Apple Watch production to begin in January 2015
The source: According to supply chain sources cited by the Hong Kong-based Apple Daily newspaper via GforGames, Quanta Computer has been tapped as the exclusive assembler of the Apple Watch. The sources claimed that the Taiwan-based manufacturer secured this contract by agreeing not to work with any other rival smartwatch makers.
According to Apple Daily, the Apple Watch will be assembled at plants located in Changshu, China. Mass production is scheduled to begin in January 2015 and Apple Daily’s sources noted that Quanta is already preparing for the Apple Watch production run by bolstering its workforce with 40,000 additional workers. Quanta also supposedly beat out fellow Taiwanese manufacturer Inventec for the privilege of being the sole manufacturer of the Apple Watch.
The background: The claims made by Apple Daily’s sources were repeated a few days later by Taiwan’s DigiTimes news site. However, it was unclear if the DigiTimes story was based on the same sources used by Apple Daily. Either way, both reports contradict many other rumors that suggested that the Apple Watch’s components and assembly would be handled by several different suppliers and manufacturers, including LG Display. On the other hand, a January 2015 production run would align with the February launch window suggested by a recent report from The Information.
The Apple Watch has been in the works since 2011
The source: Apple’s Jony Ive, the renowned designer behind many of the company’s most iconic products, revealed this interesting tidbit in a recent in-depth interview with Vogue magazine. “It’s strange when you’ve been working on something for three years,” Ive told Vogue magazine while trying to describe the effort that went in to the design of the Apple Watch. In other words, Apple has been planning its smartwatch since 2011, approximately one year before the first “iWatch” rumors emerged. Not only does this timeline reveal Ive’s slow and methodical approach to product design, it’s also a testament to Apple’s culture of secrecy that it was able to conceal its smartwatch ambitions for a full year.
The background: It’s no surprise that Ive dedicated three years of his life to designing the Apple Watch. As Ive revealed in an interview with The Sunday Times earlier this year, he previously consulted with candy makers to develop the brightly-colored original iMac and even visited with metalworkers in Japan to study how they hammered thin sheets of metal while he was developing the Titanium PowerBook.
Apple Watch release coming in February, albeit with sapphire supply constraints
The source: According to Chinese site Feng via 9to5Mac, Apple is planning on releasing the Apple Watch in February 2015. However, Feng’s sources predicted that there will be an initial shortage of the Apple Watch due to supply constraints for the devices’ sapphire glass screen. GT Advanced Technologies is Apple’s sole supplier of sapphire and its production rate may be a bottleneck in the overall Apple Watch supply chain, according to Feng.
The background: While Feng blames GT Advanced Technologies’ sapphire production for delaying the release of the Apple Watch, other sources have noted that it is software issues, rather than hardware issues, that are holding up the device’s release. According to insider sources cited by The Information, Apple was originally planning on releasing the Apple Watch in time for the holiday shopping season this year, before encountering software issues. Some commentators have speculated that Apple is tweaking the software to improve the battery life for the Apple Watch. Apple has yet to reveal details about the expected battery life of the Apple Watch, although the company has suggested that the device would only need to be charged once a day. It should also be noted that any sapphire shortages would not affect the production of the Watch Sport, since that model uses “strengthened Ion-X glass.”
10 million Apple Watch units will sell in 2015
The source: Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster believes that Apple will sell around 10 million Apple Watches with an average selling price of $500 in 2015, according to a recent note to investors obtained by Apple Insider. According to the Apple-focused analyst, this would add approximately 3 percent to the company’s revenue in calendar year 2015. It is not clear if Munster’s prediction was based on an Apple Watch launch in February or earlier.
“Overall, we believe that the Apple Watch is light years ahead of any other smartwatch on the market, but consumer application may be limited initially until developers begin to create useful applications for the watch,” wrote Munster according to Apple Insider. “We believe that to date, there have been less than 3 million smartwatches sold in total, thus the Apple Watch will represent a significant change in the smartwatch industry.”
The background: Munster’s conservative Apple Watch sales prediction was based on a survey he conducted of several hundred customers who were waiting to buy a new iPhone on the first day of its availability. Among a group that would presumably be more inclined to buy the device than the general population, only 34 percent of the respondents said that they were planning on purchasing an Apple Watch. Munster’s sales prediction is a bit lower than what many other industry watchers are predicting and is far lower than the “50 million Apple Watches in 2015” predicted by DigiTimes’ sources at LG Display.
More from Tech Cheat Sheet:
- Apple’s Global iPhone Rollout Appears Strong Despite Bendgate
- Apple Watch Raises the Bar for Mobile Display Quality and Cost
- Will Apple’s Next-Generation iPhone Feature More Samsung Tech?
Follow Nathanael on Twitter (@ArnoldEtan_WSCS)