Rumor: Samsung plans Apple 'iWatch' competition

News today is that it's not only Apple [AAPL] that has designs on some form of connected watch -- the company's ex-partner, Samsung, is also applying its design teams to the task of making a similar device, as both firms continue their "thermonuclear" battle for space in the unfolding evolution of post-PC devices.

[ABOVE: Apple's Jony Ive on BBC.]

Samsung's sour Apple plan

To be fair, Samsung doesn't have the design genius of Sir Jony Ive, (now one of the world's few owners of a gold Blue Peter badge), to help its design department come up with something. Ive will be included within a BBC kids show exploring design to be shown in the UK tomorrow.  You'll like Ive, he comes across as both a genius and a lovely bloke, proving that you don't always need to be arrogant to prove you have talent.

The lack of a Jony Ive is probably why the Samsung iWatch prototype looks so dull. It's a black square with what appears to be a black-&-white display. It is called the Galaxy Altius -- an interesting choice of name, given that altius is a Latin word which can be found in the expression "Altius non tollendi", which means "the right to restrain another from building higher than a certain limit." Which, if you think about it, seems to be Samsung's role in its competition with Cupertino -- after all, if Samsung didn't exist, Apple would have to invent it. No one competes at their best in a vacuum.

So what's Samsung saying with its latest Apple-competing gadget? According to the dodgy Korean message board (via SlashGear) which claims to have scooped thus tale as something that acts as "an extension of user's mobile lives".

Competing with rumors

As described, Samsung's 'iWatch-killer' boasts a 500-x-500 touchscreen display that offers the time, instant messaging and music playback. There's a built-in MP3 player and the device seems to be network-connected, judging from the SK Telecom logo on some of the images.

Samsung hasn't confirmed or denied these claims, but given the mass speculation on Apple's plans for a smartwatch it shouldn't surprise anyone that the most profitable firm in the Android market would be looking in this direction. While the source report's credibility is open to question, it stands to reason that Samsung will be prepared to actively explore the potential of any device Apple is rumored to be working on.

While small, there's already a smart watch industry of sorts. The Pebble, I'mWatch and Casio G-Shock all show some of the dimensions of what such devices could do.

Apple's plans for the product are already pretty advanced. Reports this week have claimed the company has 100 product designers who are: "Working on a writstwatch-like device that may perform some of the tasks now handled by the iPhone and iPad." With so many involved development seems to have moved beyond the experimentation stage, the report explains.

"The details of the device are sketchy, but it is claimed its features could include a curved touchscreen made from a new type of flexible glass, an array of sensors to monitor exercise patterns and heart rate, “wave and pay” function, access to maps, voice control and wireless integration with the iPhone." The Telegraph

There's no way to tell how long it might take for Apple to bring such a system to market, or even if it will do so, but we may as well enjoy the speculation surrounding such devices for a little while. The Apple rumor machine should be moving into a different orbit shortly, however, as analysts and industry-watchers are beginning to mutter about a forthcoming spring product announcement.

Apple preps product attack

Piper Jaffray is the latest to predict the launch. Analyst Gene Munster isn't sure what's coming (others anticipate a new iPhone in June/July), but has previously said he believes the company is developing an Apple television which will likely be preceeded by an app-supporting Apple TV update. The company may plan an iPad refresh as it migrates to new display technology.

"We believe Apple could update the full-sized iPad to a body style similar to the iPad Mini. Additionally, we believe that the iPad Mini could get a Retina display, although that may happen later in the year given the supply constraints Apple faced on the Mini in the December quarter." Gene Munster.

IMS Research claims wearable technology will be worth $6 billion by 2015. Apple is thought to be exploring  a range of new technologies which could be implemented within such devices.

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