Apple is, essentially, the top dog in terms of overall consumer popularity and usage. They know this as well. They're far from oblivious. I can't tell if they've made the conscious effort to hold off on releasing their own version of the smartwatch. I suppose it wouldn't be too farfetched to say that Apple's iWatch is just fashionably late, but then again, it may be a business strategy.
Apple has had time to look at the competition. They've been planning and observing. Because of this they've been able to see the crowd response. They've looked at how the customers are reacting to the design of these smartwatches. Most of the smartwatches out there (including the Galaxy Gear) have a square face. This is where Apple's tardiness may have benefited them. Again, their absence in the smartwatch field is up to interpretation from anyone and everyone, so I could be wrong with my assumptions. Having said that, I personally think that this was their plan. The newest rumor spreading over the internet isn't regarding the release date or price. The rumor is actually talking about the design. Instead of the ever-popular square face, Apple's new iWatch is rumored to have a round face design. This could be the entire reasoning behind the whole "year late to the party" thing. Design does play a big role in this type of technology, especially since it can be viewed as a fashion statement.
Even though Apple may be the company to pull the wearable out of the grave, I still feel that the wearable is on its way out. It's not become popular enough to warrant any real purchase. There are usually certain stipulations involving these gadgets. They normally have to be coupled with some other type of mobile device, i.e. your cell phone. The smartwatches out now aren't designed to stand alone. If Apple's design team is able to make something that can stand alone and doesn't need to be tethered to a phone, they may just cause the wearable market to thrive.
If Apple isn't able to keep the wearable market alive with their iWatch, then I feel it's safe to say that the wearable market is a dead end. They've had the time to analyze the reception of the new devices and are able to develop theirs with that reception in mind. Here's hoping that the iWatch can make the change, but if Apple can't do it, then it would be my suggestion to the rest of the consumer tech companies to throw in the towel.
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