Taiwan’s Quanta to start making Apple smartwatch in July
Taiwan’s Quanta Computer will start mass production of Apple’s first smartwatch next month, a source familiar with the matter said, as the US tech giant tries to prove it can still innovate against South Korean rival Samsung Electronics.
The still-unnamed watch, which Apple followers have dubbed the iWatch, will be the company’s first foray into a niche product category that many remain skeptical about, especially as to whether it can drive profits as growth slows in tech gadgets.
The production will be a boost to Quanta, whose work for Apple so far has focused on laptops and iPods, product lines that are in decline.
Quanta’s role, though, is likely to raise questions about what involvement Hon Hai Precision Industry, one of Apple’s biggest suppliers, will play in production.
Mass production will start next month and the commercial launch will come as early as October, according to the source and another person familiar with the matter. The sources requested anonymity because Apple’s production plans are private.
Apple will introduce a smartwatch with a display that likely measures 2.5 inches diagonally and is slightly rectangular, one of the sources said.
The source said Apple expects to ship 50 million units within the first year of the product’s release, although these types of initial estimates can be subject to change.
The watch is in trial production at Quanta, which will be the main manufacturer, accounting for at least 70 per cent of final assembly, the source said.
Like many other smartwatches, Apple’s watch will be able to perform some functions independently, but tasks like messaging and voice chat will require connection to a smartphone, according to the source.
The device will only be compatible with gadgets running Apple’s iOS, like its flagship iPhone, one of the sources said.
A third source said LG Display is the exclusive supplier of the screen for the gadget’s initial batch of production.
It also contains a sensor that monitors the user’s pulse. Singapore-based imaging and sensor maker Heptagon is on the supplier list for the feature, two other sources said.
Apple’s smartwatch will follow similar devices by Samsung, Sony, Motorola and LG Electronics – gadgets that tech watchers say have not been appealing or user-friendly enough to ignite a wave of mass adoption.