A Foxconn smartwatch was recently revealed by Taiwans’ Hon Hai Precision Industry. While media outlets have attempted to spice up headlines by implying the wearable computing device will be an iWatch competitor, in reality it is actually a slightly more sophisticated version of the Nike Fuelband. Accordingly, no cannibalization of the market for a potential iWatch will likely occur.
Foxconn has been the controversial go to manufacturer for Apple products for quite some time. In addition, recent leaked memos suggested that Apple created 1,000 iWatch prototypes at the Foxconn plant. Accordingly, it would not be in Foxconn’s best interest to push out a competitor to the iWatch shortly before the Apple branded wearable computing device is expected to hit the street. That leaves us with two possibilities: 1) the Apple iWatch will be so innovative and ground-breaking that the Foxconn smartwatch release is irrelevant to Apple and 2) the Foxconn smartwatch is based upon Apple’s prototype iWatch, but that Apple has decided to scrap the project or take it in a different direction. We hope it is option number 1. However, the similarity of the Foxconn offering to Apple’s recently received “slap bracelet” patent combined with Foxconn’s future plans for integration of fingerprint identification, a technology Apple recently acquired with their purchase of Authentec last year, leads us to believe that the second option is a strong possibility.
The Foxconn smartwatch forges a bluetooth connection to the user’s iPhone and provides alerts of incoming phone calls, text messages, and followed Facebook posts. “With such a device, you can keep your phone in your pocket and simply check all kinds of messages on your watch,” Hon Hai chairman Terry Gou recently remarked at a shareholder meeting. In addition, the wearable computing device can monitor and track the user’s vital statics such as heartbeat and respiration, storing them with a copy of the individual’s personal health records. To protect sensitive information, Foxconn plans to equip the smartwatch with an integrated fingerprint scanner.
Whatever the implication, the timing of the Foxconn smartwatch release is definitely interesting and could signal trouble between Apple and its contentious manufacturing partner. It could also mean that Apple has scrapped it’s own smartwatch project or revised it such that it doesn’t compete with the Foxconn device. This development is one to watch for those anxiously awaiting to adorn their wrists with new Apple tech. However, at this time, we do not feel it is evidence that Apple has been “outFoxed”.
Foxconn Smartwatch: [Company Website]