As the buzz around the launch date for Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) smart watch, dubbed the “iWatch,” picks up, the latest rumors suggest that the device could be delayed until 2014, by which time the world might be swamped by millions of such wearable devices.
The Financial Times reported on Sunday that Apple is aggressively hiring more employees to work on the rumored iOS-powered iWatch, however, the company, which is reportedly dealing with engineering problems, might not be ready to unveil the device before late 2014.
Many within the tech world believe that Apple has figured out a way to create the perfect wearable device, which will entice consumers with its smartphone-like features. Some people even expect the iWatch to be the first revolutionary product launch by the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant, since its first-generation iPad in 2010.
However, considering the fact that just about all the major players in the tech world -- including Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Samsung (KRX:005935) -- are finalizing their own plans to jump into the smart watch industry, it will not be an easy turf for Apple to explore.
And 2014, the year that Apple has reportedly chosen for releasing the iWatch, could make it tough for the device to stand out from a crowd of similar products.
A latest forecast by market analysis firm Canalys has claimed that worldwide shipments of smart watches will exceed five million units in 2014, a figure that is more than 15 times the 330,000 units shipped in 2012 and 10 times the 500,000 units expected to ship by the end of 2013.
The smart watches of the future are expected to offer significant improvements over the existing standard in the segment, which is currently led by Sony (NYSE:SNE). Unlike earlier products, the new smart watches will provide more sophisticated software and more elegant hardware.
“Smart watches will be the most important new product category in consumer electronics since the iPad defined the market for tablets,” Chris Jones, an analyst at Canalys, said in a statement. “Software platforms tied to smart watches will also be a tremendous opportunity for developers to write apps in categories such as health and wellness or sports and fitness.”
In addition to Apple’s iWatch, the year 2014 could see a smart watch from Microsoft, which is expected to complement the company’s Surface devices. According to a report, on Monday, by The Verge, Microsoft’s Surface team is now prototyping a wearable device featuring Oxynitride Aluminum, or "transparent aluminum,” which is three times harder than glass.
Reports that surfaced in June suggest that Google is also testing a smart watch, powered by its Android operating system, to combat Apple's iWatch. And, in March, Samsung was also reported to be working on a new smart watch, which may be part of its upcoming “Gear” line of wearable devices.