I have been pretty dismissive about all the speculation about the iWatch. The simple reason is that if you ask most people to pull back their sleeves, you will see a bare wrist. A lot of people have stopped wearing watches because of their mobile phone.

I should also point out that I bought an iPod Nano and a watch strap designed for the device off Kickstarter. I thought it was a great idea, yet it lies gathering dust on my shelf, primarily because I’ve stopped wearing watches for the reason outlined above.

So if the iPhone and other mobile phones are making watches somewhat displaced, why would Apple launch one?

Up until now, the question left me scratching my head. Earlier today though I read this Gizmodo article which pointed out something which I hadn’t considered. What if one of it’s primary functions was health and fitness related?

The industry developing around mobile health. ABI research predicts that there will be 80 million connected wearable fitness devices by 2016 and the market for health and fitness apps will be worth $400 million in the same period. There are already a number of players in the space like Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit. Could it be a question of Apple entering the market and executing better similar to how the iPod revolutionised the mp3 industry?

While I can’t find any hard sales figures for sales of devices like the Nike Fuelband, Nike’s Equipment division saw an 18% rise in profits for the 2012 fiscal year after introduction of the Nike+ FuelBand, in comparison to the -1% loss during the 2011 fiscal year. So clearly there is a market there. Jean-Louis Gassée offers plenty more reasons to speculate about an iWatch in a recent Monday Note column.

Rampant speculation about Apple and new product launches is nothing new. The reasons why they might launch an iWatch, however, are starting to make sense and it’s far more to do with the information the device can glean about its wearer and his surroundings than telling the time.

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Piaras Kelly
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