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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 105

Emergence of iWatch: Patent battle looms over pronoun, i

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

Exactly as we discussed in the Asian Tribune a month ago, there are clear signs that Apple is going to introduce what Tim Cook, the CEO of the company, recently mentioned as a wearable device.

In my previous article on the matter about a month ago, I concluded that the device could be a wristwatch, by reading both what Mr Cook said in public and then, of course, reading between the lines; a simple process of elimination helped me do the trick at the time of writing the article.

Apple was in the news this week about its patent application for iWatch, in countries representing three different continents - Japan, Mexico, Russia and Turkey. Surprisingly, there was no sign of an application being submitted in this regard in the European Union or in the United States at present.

In the EU, an Italian software company holds the patent right for iWatch, according to media reports. In the US, meanwhile, a company is already said to be marketing iWatch for customers in the US – on a small scale.

That means, unless the company handles the issue sensitively, Apple may be forced to be in the familiar territory once again from the very outset – get embroiled in endless patent battles.

With a not-easy-to-match war chest at its disposal, as in the past, Apple may use its muscle power to hold the minnows under its thumb, if it doesn’t get its way in the short run. In the long run, however, it is going to be highly counter-productive.

With the threat of serious counter-lawsuits in the offing for patent infringement, the company cannot afford to project itself as a squeaky clean technological giant at the top of gadgetry pyramid; those days are certainly gone.

In the meantime, what comes with iWatch is still the substance for wild speculation. Moreover, whatever comes inside a device, which is as small as a wristwatch, needs to be a real game changer, if it wants to make an impact on the consumer’s psyche, in order to make sure its long term survival is guaranteed.

Of course, it can function as a sort of mobile phone. Its use as a phone, however, is undoubtedly comical, at best and somewhat cumbersome, at worst. Imagine a column of office workers coming out while answering their respective phones: it can’t be a pretty sight to see the chaotic movement of individuals, inadvertently mimicking a battered boxer in the ring; the posture is not going to leave any phone user at ease, to say the least.

If Apple is ambitious enough, iWatch may even be able to record pulse rate, blood pressure or even body temperature. They certainly can attract the attention of the consumers too, provided that Apple gets its marketing strategy right. Apple, however, must be prepared to embrace plan ‘B’ when novelty wears off.

Apple’s intense focus on wearable devices has inevitably makes its loyal customers really worried. Some see it as a disturbing sign that the company under its present CEO has run out of innovative ideas.

Since Apple used to release one smartphone every year, the next iPhone may be in the pipeline, perhaps, to be officially released in autumn.

While being sandwiched between patent battles and intense completion from the rivals such as Samsung, the new iPhone is going to be the product, not iWatch, that determines the future of the company. As an Apple fan, I, like millions of the like-minded, hope Mr Cook will get this right to save the great brand.

- Asian Tribune -

Emergence of iWatch: Patent battle looms over pronoun, i
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