Although manufacturers including Sony and the Kickstarter-backed Pebble have already released their own smartwatches, consumers have patiently awaited Apple's response.
According to the Financial Times, the company has ratcheted up their development efforts by embarking on a hiring spree. Despite the optimism that this news brings, it also suggests that the "iWatch" might not reach store shelves until the end of 2014. Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, declined to comment on the news; however, he did show enthusiasm towards wearable tech during an AllThingsD conference held in June. He described the emerging industry as both "incredibly interesting", as well as "ripe for exploration".
Some are wondering how Apple, a technology powerhouse, doesn't have the necessary expertise to develop a smartwatch on their own. Nevertheless, the "iWatch" is expected to be its first new product category since the passing of Steve Jobs, and Apple wants the launch to be absolutely perfect. A source familiar with the hirings says the Cupertino-based firm has faced "hard engineering problems that they've not been able to solve."
As a result, Apple has made efforts to acquire smaller startups that are working on related projects. Often called "aqui-hires", this practice has become commonplace across the tech sector. In addition to recruiting the industry's top engineers, Apple has also placed a focus on design and aesthetics. The company recently hired Paul Deneve, the former CEO of fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, to aid Apple with "special projects".
It'll be interesting to see how the eventual "iWatch" fairs in the market. Not only does Apple face competition from existing products, but they must also outmatch upcoming smartwatches from Google and Samsung. The big question remains: can Apple still produce innovative devices, even without Steve Jobs at the helm?