Launch of Apple iWatch may be a year away
Technology giant hiring outside expertise amid industry-watcher fears of delay
Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services’. Photograph: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
Apple has embarked on a hiring spree to tackle design problems with its “iWatch” wrist computer, bringing in fresh expertise amid concern the launch of its first new product since the death of Steve Jobs could be at least a year away.
The company has begun hiring “aggressively” for the project in recent weeks, say people familiar with Apple’s plans for the wearable device, a move that shows it has stepped up development but which raises questions over the ability of its own engineers to develop wearable technology.
As Apple moves from iPods, iPhones and iPads into an entirely new category of product, it is looking beyond its existing staff in Cupertino for the talent required to build it – an indication that the endeavour involves “hard engineering problems that they’ve not been able to solve”, according to one source.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, could still decide not to launch the product, just as past ideas have been scrapped, these people said.
However, the iWatch – a brand for which Apple has made several applications to trademark – has now progressed from an exploratory phase to having several dozen employees dedicated to its development.
The timing of the hiring spree implied the iWatch would not be ready for launch until the latter part of next year, said people familiar with Apple’s thinking, a blow to some investors eager to see evidence that Apple’s innovators still have the ability to create or redefine new product categories.
Apple declined to comment, but Mr Cook said in April’s earnings call: “Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software and services that we can’t wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014.”
While that is expected to include a lower-cost iPhone with colourful plastic casing later this year, Mr Cook has recently expressed enthusiasm for wearable technology. Speaking at an AllThingsD conference in June, he said it was an area “ripe for exploration” and “incredibly interesting”. – (Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2013)