From High-Tech to High-Fashion

16th May, 2014

The iWatch is rumoured to be Apple’s first foray into the world of wearable technology, a response to Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear and a myriad of other wearable devices positioned as ‘the next big thing’ and may even arrive late 2014.

While whispers about the iWatch have been out there for quite a while now – as far back as 2008 when Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak accidentally let slip that “Apple’s future could lie in an ‘iWatch’”. By 2013, Bloomberg added heat by reporting that “Apple has a team of about 100 product designers working on a wristwatch-like device”, followed by Apple filing a trademark patent on the iWatch in Japan, Mexico, Russia and other markets, which made Apple-fans’ hearts leap with joy.

Fast forward to today, and the rumours all seem to be falling into place: wearable devices have often been dubbed the tech trend of 2014 and health and fitness tracking devices have hit the mainstream market and become incredibly popular. One, the Nike+ Fuelband, has been particularly successful within quantified-self circles. While the Fuelband tracks and monitors ones health and activities, it does so by syncing its data with either one of Apple’s iPhone, iPad, or iPod devices. As such it’s perhaps surprising that Nike is rumoured to stop making its wearable device  – in the face of the anticipated competition from new Apple hardware?

If, as anticipated, Apple develop health informatics as a key part of the iPhone user experience and as the next generation gets smarter and more intuitive, so the data gets richer and the barriers to churn get stronger – offering a key anchor for continued loyalty to Apple devices and further cementing their place in people’s lives and culture.

In addition, Apple is exploring new and different circles by hiring the likes of Paul Deneve, former CEO of French luxury brand Yves Saint Laurent, to work on ‘special projects’ and Burberry’s CEO Angela Ahrendts, who will run Apple’s retail operations. Both hires are indicative of a greater integration between high-tech and high-fashion in the future.

So far, smartwatches have not however lived up to consumer expectations. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, which was introduced at the Barcelona World Mobile Congress in February this year, has stumbled badly and is now all too often given away for free with other Galaxy devices – but not even this got people to wear them and most end up on eBay.

Describes as ‘too bulky’ and ‘too ugly’, design currently represents the biggest challenges for this somewhat puzzling wardrobe accessory. Apple seems determined to overcome this hurdle, but it must combine fashionable design and user experience that finds a natural role and way into our lives to actually make customers buy and wear it.

With the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) set to take place on the 2nd of June in San Francisco, we should not have to wait too long to see what Apple has in mind for the much rumoured, but never officially confirmed, iWatch.