Wearable technology has long been hailed as the next big thing but it’s so far failed to make a huge impact on what we wear. Google ended up pulling its Glass product for the time being last year, presumably because consumer demand to look a bit weird wasn’t high, and a string of smart watches from the likes of Samsung, LG and Sony haven’t exactly taken the world by storm.
That could all change with the launch of Apple’s Watch, details of which will be fleshed out today at 5pm GMT. Apple’s certainly got a track record of taking existing products and using innovation and design to make them a global phenomenon – from MP3 players to tablet computers. Can its CEO Tim Cook turn us all into a generation of smartwatch wearers?
What we know already
Cook announced the Watch in September last year alongside the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. It will come in three varieties: A standard version simply called Watch, the lightweight Watch Sport that comes with a rubber bracelet, and the fancier Watch Edition, made from 18-carat gold.
The models will come with a variety of interchangeable straps and all feature a heart-rate sensor and gyroscope. They will require an iPhone 5 or later to be connected to in order to function properly.
The latest rumours
The big claim doing the rounds today is that the most expensive model could sell for as much as $10,000. Apple’s got some seriously die-hard fans but the idea it could shift something with a price like that in the kind of bulk that it’s used to selling seems fanciful.
It’s also been mentioned that app developers including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest have had top-secret access to the watch at Apple’s Cupertino HQ so they can create software in time for its launch. Planned apps are rumoured to include an electronic room key for the hotel chain Starwood and car controls from BMW.
Read more: Apple's Tim Cook, martyr or visionary?
The long-term implications
Some would argue the Watch is make-or-break for Tim Cook, as it’s the first all-new product the company has launched since he took the helm in 2011. The success of the Watch will likely be seen as a measure of whether he has filled the shoes of Apple’s legendary founder Steve Jobs. If it really takes off then he could make history by turning what’s already by far the most valuable company on the planet, with a market cap of $737m, into the world’s first trillion-dollar business.
More broadly its performance is likely to have a profound impact on the future of wearable tech. If consumers are willing to adopt Apple’s Watch en masse then it will be a clear signal to other tech companies that wearable tech could be the way to go.