Apple Watch's design may appear smart, but it must be even smarter to make it in the hot and increasingly crowded wearables market.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

September 10, 2014

2 Min Read

As I mentioned in my Apple introduction event coverage, iPhones weren't the only thing that Apple unveiled Tuesday. Confirming one of the worst-kept secrets in the technology industry in recent memory, the company became the latest (and undoubtedly not the last ... I'm looking at you, Microsoft) to unveil a "smartwatch" wearable.

Apparently Tim Cook's not as fond of lower-case vowels as was his predecessor, Steve Jobs, because the Apple Watch is absent the "i" that was expected at the beginning of the product name. And speaking of Steve Jobs, the Apple Watch has apparently been under development since shortly after his passing nearly three years ago.

As I fast-forwarded through the video archive, I was struck first by the long-term wisdom that the (currently) spec-deficient S1 SoC powering the Apple Watch signifies. Although the upfront investment to transform an ARM instruction-set license into a custom silicon implementation (as Qualcomm does with its Snapdragon application processors) was substantial, its dividends were obvious to me even when the Apple-developed chips ran only in iPhones and iPads (e.g., control, no need to pay a silicon supplier "middleman," etc).

Now, however, Apple's ability to also expand that same instruction set license into brand-new product categories in wearables has emerged. In saying this, I'm assuming that the "S1" is ARM-based ... I suspect that's a fairly safe guess. Regardless, by leveraging its own SoCs, Apple's able to differentiate itself from a hoard of competitors all using the same fundamental silicon foundation and in some cases relying on several-year-old IC technology.

The flurry of smartwatch announcements in recent weeks from LG, Motorola, Samsung, and others had previously been viewed as a proactive reaction to a presumed Apple announcement to follow. But frankly, having now seen how little Apple revealed about its Watch, and how little it let the press play unscripted with them, I wonder if the opposite might have been the case. Was the Apple Watch a last-second "one more thing" addition to the program as a means of blunting the advance of Google's Android Wear army?

Read the rest of this story on EDN.


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