Could Jawbone, maker of innovative wireless speakers and wearable fitness tech, one day threaten Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) dominance of the premium electronic market? According to Wired, Jawbone is well-positioned to become the next company that revolutionizes the way consumers interact with portable electronic devices — similar to how Apple changed consumers’ behavior with the introduction of the iPod in 2001 and the iPhone in 2007.
Although Jawbone currently only specializes in a few well-designed niche products — like its portable Jambox speakers, Era headsets, and Up activity-tracking wristband — the company is making strategic moves that will soon allow it to expand to bigger and better things. According to “numerous sources close to the situation” cited by Recode, Jawbone is in the process of completing a $250 million funding round that valued the company at $3.3 billion.
As noted by Wired, this latest investment suggests that Jawbone is preparing to debut a new type of product. Since Jawbone specializes in portable electronic devices and wearable tech, the tech startup may soon be directly competing with Apple in the rapidly growing wearable tech market. According to Juniper Research, the wearable tech device market is expected to grow to $19 billion by 2018.
Apple is rumored to be soon entering the wearable tech market with an iWatch or other device. According to insider sources cited by well-connected Apple watcher Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac, Apple has hired various medical sensor and fitness experts to help it develop a wearable tech product with health-monitoring capabilities. Last summer, Apple hired former Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve, who may be lending his fashion design expertise to the iWatch project.
However, according to Wired, design may be one area where Jawbone has an advantage over Apple. Although both companies have a minimalist philosophy when it comes to product design, Jawbone’s quirky devices embrace the use of organic textures and bright colors. On the other hand, Apple lead designer Jony Ive favors sleeker-looking products made with glass and brushed aluminum.
Although Ive’s minimalist designs have served the California-based company well for its iPod, iPhone, and iPad product lines, sleek industrial materials like glass and aluminum could make Apple’s wearable tech devices less appealing than Jawbone’s. As noted by Wired, Jawbone’s quirky product designs may be better suited for wearable tech products than Apple’s current design approach. Jawbone also already has wearable tech experience after releasing several devices, while Apple is only rumored to be working on an iWatch.
On the other hand, Apple has a well-known history of best selling products that proves that being the first company to enter a product category doesn’t necessarily equal lasting success. The iPod wasn’t the first digital media player on the market and the iPhone wasn’t the first mobile phone. However, both products soon became standard-bearers in their respective product categories. Apple investors may soon find out how Apple’s iWatch will perform in the wearable tech market. According to prominent analysts such as Cantor Fitzgerald’s Brian White and DisplaySearch’s David Hsieh, Apple will release the iWatch sometime this year.
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