Revving up for the launch of its first new product category since Steve Jobs' death, Apple has gone on a hiring spree for engineers to make its long-rumored smartwatch, sources familiar with the matter told the Financial Times in a Sunday report.
But despite the personnel boost, the so-called "iWatch" won't be hitting store shelves soon. The Financial Times also reported that the Apple's supposedly "next big thing" will likely see a late 2014 release.
That release date, also reported by one outside Apple analyst, will surely have some anxious Apple suppliers and shareholders concerned, many of whom are worried about Apple's potentially fading allure and lack of new, groundbreaking products in the years since Jobs' death in 2011. Bloomberg News reported that Apple already has 100 product designers working on the project.
In reality, the current gap between new Apple products is not all that profound. The iPod was introduced in 2001, followed by the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010. An "iWatch" in 2014 would mark only a four year gap.
But the market for wearable tech already looks like it might be very crowded by the end of next year. By that point, Google Glass will be fully released to the public rather than only to a handful of contest winners. Microsoft is already testing a smartphone prototype, The Verge reported on Monday. Samsung, too, has already confirmed the development of a Galaxy smartwatch. And the Pebble smartwatch is already selling out at stores.
We first heard that Apple was developing curved-glass, computerized wristwatch from the New York Times in February. Earlier this month Apple filed for the "iWatch" trademark in Japan, before filing for similar trademarks in Mexico, Taiwan, Turkey and Colombia.
The tight-lipped executives at Apple even hinted at their interest in high-tech wristwatches. At the AllThingsD conference in May, Tim Cook said that "the wrist is interesting” for wearable tech. The Apple CEO, who also serves on Nike's board of directors, is known for sporting a Nike+ FuelBand.