Motorola's Moto 360 Android Wear-powered smart watch | Source: Google
Brian Blair of Rosenblatt Securities issued a note to investors on Wednesday, a copy of which was provided to AppleInsider, in which he said the wrist-worn "iWatch" is expected to have a round face. According to Blair, Apple's approach will have a "slimmer profile" than Motorola's already-announced round Moto 360 watch, which is scheduled to debut this summer on Google's Android Wear platform.
Blair anticipates that Apple will build between 18 million and 21 million "iWatch" units in the second half of 2014, with device production to begin in late July or early August. He believes those production estimates have increased within Apple's supply chain over the past month.
Sources also indicated to Blair that manufacturing of the anticipated wearable device will be handled by Taiwan's Quanta Computer, and not Apple's regular manufacturing partner Foxconn.
Blair's contacts also indicated that Apple has built multiple models of the "iWatch," including "one that used a sapphire screen." He did not indicate how many models might make it to market, or whether the sapphire screen made it past a test phase.
The analyst noted that Apple did not refresh its iPod lineup in 2013, which he believes positions the "iWatch" to largely supplant the company's declining iPod business.
Speculation has been mounting for years that Apple may soon enter the growing wearable devices market with its own smart wrist watch. Anticipation of such a device has been bolstered by a number of patents and investments from the company.
The so-called "iWatch" is expected to focus on health and fitness for users, going beyond simple step counting to measure biometrics data from a user's wrist. Those claims have been supported by a number of hires made by Apple in the fitness and medicine fields, as well as fashion-related hires that may signal an interest in visually appealing wearable devices.