New Rumors Emerge As Apple Nears Its September 9 iWatch Unveil

2-10-2013 9-22-27 PM

A flurry of new rumors and announcements have consumed digital health in the past week as Apple prepares for the highly anticipated release of the iWatch, Apple’s first new product since its 2010 iPad launch. The rumor mill has been steadily churning out iWatch-related speculations, most based on confirmed Apple new hires, since details of the iWatch project were leaked in February 2013. However, since Apple’s announcement of an upcoming media event, the rumor mill has jumped into hyper drive.

Will Apple unveil the iWatch on September 9?

On August 28, Apple sent out an email invitation announcing a September 9 media event. The invitation was, as is typical with Apple, minimalist and lacking detail. The only text within the email read “9.9.2014: Wish we could say more.” Initially, reporters assumed this would be the iPhone 6 unveil, based on earlier rumors that the iWatch would more likely make its debut in October or November.

Reports of a September 9 iWatch unveil began to emerge after Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak spoke at length about the budding wearables market during an interview on August 29, a day after Apple’s cryptic invite went out. In the interview, Wozniak worries that wearables could just be a fad, eventually facing the same fate as Bluetooth headsets, which came in and then went out of style in rapid succession. He tempers that concern later, and directly addresses Apple’s efforts in the space, saying “Apple works very hard to produce exceptionally great products and doesn’t quickly release things like a wearable. So if one is introduced I expect it to have a chance to set the direction and make the product category finally viable."

RE/Code’s highly reputable Apple reporter John Paczkowski called the September 9 media event even before invitations went out, and has stood firm on his prediction that the event will showcase not only two new iPhones, but also the long awaited iWatch. At this point, its a good bet that he’s right.

Will iWatch Really Cost $400?

The iWatch will reportedly come in a variety of models and price points, but the high end model, which Apple users tend to gravitate toward as evidenced by the abysmal sales numbers on their lower priced iPhone 5C, will retail at $400. With far less expensive smartwatch options already on the market from Samsung and others, the iWatch will need to deliver on some of the wildly speculative rumors that have been tied to it over the years, such as its ability to predict heart attacks, non-invasively monitor blood glucose levels, or track sweat levels to support fitness apps. As with all things Apple, pricing decisions could definitely change in the coming days, and insiders are reporting that a final price may not even be decided before the September 9 unveil.

When Will It Ship?

While it would seem logical that a September 9 unveil would be planned to ensure that devices were on shelves for the 2014 holiday season, new rumors are pegging shipments in early 2015. An engineer at Apple reportedly confirmed that “It’s not shipping anytime soon.” An extended product unveil to shipment timeline would not be unheard of for Apple, the company took six months to begin shipping the original iPhone after its January unveil. Still, it’s hard to imagine that Apple will let the holiday season pass without at least taking pre-orders.

Hints From Apple

A recent update from Apple has clarified that applications connecting to HealthKit cannot access health data and then pass the information on to marketing firms. This is likely an attempt to appease legitimate health care organizations like Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins, who Apple has been reaching out to in recent weeks to build an image of endorsement from established health care providers.

When Apple unveiled HealthKit at its 2014 WWDC event, Epic Systems was named as an early adopter of the HealthKit API. More recently, Allscripts has been named as having development efforts in the works with Apple. If Apple is genuinely interested in integrating data captured from HealthKit and the biosensor-laden iWatch with hospital and practice EHR’s, the participating health systems are going to demand secure data sharing policies before exchanging any sensitive consumer health data, so this announcement could well have been an effort to close some hesitant big name health care organizations before the September 9 unveil.

Conclusion

It’s looking like Apple will indeed unveil the iWatch on September 9, likely with a fanfare announcement that includes endorsements from more health systems and EHR vendors. Beyond this, nothing is a sure thing. Apple is rumored to be asking $400, offering multiple models, and looking at a early 2015 to start shipments, but this would price it far over existing markets prices, and would have it missing the holiday shopping season and the resulting early boost in sales numbers that Apple will definitely wants as it launches its first new product in nearly 5 years.


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