By Stephen Schenck | November 20, 2013 10:18 AM
Is Apple making a smartwatch? Everyone and their brother seems to think so, and this purported iWatch is one rumor that’s found itself some serious staying power. Sure, we haven’t seen any hardware leaks or anything of that nature, but there still seems to be this steady drone of a rhythm driving the rumors on and on: 2014, iWatch, 2014, iWatch…
Like the idea of an Apple TV (not Apple TV the set-top box, but a full-on TV made by Apple), it’s one of these Apple rumors where its momentum appears to be wholly independent of pesky factors like evidence, and analysts will swear six ways from Sunday that both products continue to remain in Apple’s pipelines.
And you know, I believe it. The pieces are all there, like Apple’s dalliance with a watch-sized iPod nano and its close relationship with Nike over the Fuelband, and when Apple’s ready, I bet we will see the iWatch (or whatever it’s called) launch.
But even conceding that, there’s a heck of a lot we don’t know about the product. From the UI, to its hardware details, there’s been precious little about the iWatch that we’ve been able to talk about with any kind of specificity. One of the few points that has been discussed is the issue of the watch’s size, and we’ve heard some attempts to nail-down just how large a screen it might offer.
A week ago, however, a new rumor landed on my desk that threatened to shake up our expectations. Rather than just releasing one smartwatch, the report claimed that Apple would actually deliver two different versions of the hardware, one sized for men, and one for women. Specifically, it talked about a 1.3-inch or 1.7-inch screen on these models.
Last Friday, when talking with Michael on the Weekly, we got to discussing the rumor. Maybe I’m taking 21st century gender politics a little far, but I was under the impression that society was moving past such distinctions – or at the least, the watches I’d personally been looking at in my spare time tended not to draw gender lines. But as Mr. Fisher was quick to point out, this largely isn’t the case, and there’s still a big demand for watches of various sizes – any gender-specific styling aside.
OK, so in that light two iWatch sizes make a lot of sense. Surely, we haven’t seen other smartwatch manufacturers giving their own users the same kind of option, so all the better to make Apple’s really stand out.
But still, there was something about this whole rumor that didn’t sit right with me. The problem isn’t the gender divide, or even challenges with delivering comparable hardware to two differently sized devices. It’s Apple; when has Apple ever launched a new piece of personal electronics in multiple size options?
Do people have variations in their wrist sizes that would make two iWatch options appropriate? Absolutely. But you know what they also have? Wildly varying hand sizes. Yet there’s only one size iPhone.
And haven’t there been tons of voices over the years begging Apple to release a variety of iPhones sizes, like we see from the selection in Android-land, or even on Windows Phone? Throughout it all, the message from Apple has been clear: “This is the size iPhone is. You like it this way.”
Where the heck does Apple get the idea now that it finally needs to start catering to differences in user body types? From the iPad mini? I’m not so sure, and feel that the differences that make the iPad mini and iPad Air appeal to specific shoppers have to do more with the uses they see for the tablets, rather than their hand sizes.
So, what’s going to happen? Well, I’m not quite sure. While I steadfastly believe that there’s no way Apple could logically release multiple iWatch sizes while simultaneously refusing to give users multiple iPhone sizes, no one’s saying that Apple’s policies have to necessarily be reasonable. It’s more than powerful enough to just do what it wants, critics be damned. Will Apple care that its lineup lacks internal logic? Probably about as much as it cares about my feelings towards sideloading apps.
Of course, there’s a flip side to this. Maybe this rumor is a sign that we finally could get multiple iPhone sizes. There was that talk of a jumbo-sized iPhone phablet of sorts early this year, and while nothing’s come of that yet, the idea’s lingered. Maybe 2014 will be the year for untold iOS variety, across multiple devices! Who wouldn’t want to see that?
In the end, the iWatch is going to be huge no matter how Apple releases it. Heck, it might even steal the the thunder from Google Glass. But there’s still just so much we don’t know, and I’m anxious to finally start getting to the bottom and really working out what to expect.