iWatch this space: Is Apple about to launch wearable tech?

iWatch impressionThere’s been much speculation about if and when Apple will jump into the wearable technology market. But now, we’ve had the firmest indication to date that the smartphone giant is about to launch its iWatch.

The technology behemoth has just applied to register “iWatch” as a trademark in Japan.

According to reports in the Wall Street Journal, the application was lodged at the beginning of June, before being made public just a few days ago. It comes after earlier reports by the Russian broadsheet Izvestia that Apple iWatch imagehad applied for the same iWatch trademark in Russia.

So far though, no moves appear to have been made to have the name registered in Europe where, at the moment, an Italian company owns the trademark.

Registering a trademark is a key step made before the launch of any product to protect a company against rivals from registering the same name, risking expensive and length legal battles. The name of Apple’s iPod was discovered in much the same way when it filed for a trademark before the official launch 12 years ago.

There has been mounting anticipation that Apple is gearing up to introduce either a wearable watch-type gizmo or a TV-related product following something of a lull for the firm, which has not released any new gadgets since late last year.

While some believe iWatch could refer to watching television in some way, most analysts believe it indicates wearable technology you wear on your wrist like a watch.iwatch

It is believed Apple is keen to roll out a watch pretty quickly in a bid to compete with rival wearable products such as Google Glass. Apple CEO Tim Cook has already indicated his company is interested in going down the wearable technology route at a conference organised by news website All Things D.

“It’s an area that’s ripe for exploration,” he said. “It’s ripe for us to get excited about. Lots of companies will play in this space.”

But, while Cook may have been excited about the possibilities of wearable technology, he also said there were lots of obstacles to overcome. “I’m interested in a great product,” he explained. “I wear glasses because I have to. I don’t know a lot of people who wear them because they don’t have to.

iWatch mockup“There’s nothing that’s going to convince a kid that’s never worn glasses or a band or a watch or whatever to wear one. At least I haven’t seen it. So there’s lots of things to solve in this space.”

But, it would appear Apple is very close to solving those issues. Industry insiders say the new iWatch would offer a wearable system able to connect to a user’s smartphone and that Apple already has a huge team of engineers working on the product.

So far, Apple has not commented on fresh speculation but rivals Samsung are also gearing up to release a wearable gizmo, having been much more outspoken on their intentions. Earlier this year, Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, said: “We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.”

We’ll just have to wait and see which company launches first.

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