Apple CEO Hints at Gamechanging Wearable Devices

Tim Cook at the All Things D conference | Photo: Asa Mathat for All Things D

RANCHO PALOS VERDES, United States — Speaking yesterday at the All Things Digital conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company would release “several more game changers” like the iPod, iPhone and iPad, hinting that wearable devices — personal accessories with embedded sensors, displays and other digital technology like Nike’s FuelBand and Google Glass, the company’s Internet-connected eyewear — could be among them.

“It’s ripe for us all getting excited about. I think there will be tons of companies playing in this,” he said. “I think wearables is incredibly interesting, it could be a profound area.”

While stopping short of confirming whether Apple was indeed working on wearable products, the remarks follow widespread reports that the company has been experimenting with wearable devices and is developing a smartwatch. “I think the wrist is interesting,” said Cook. “If we had a room full of 10 to 20 year olds and said everyone stand up that just has a watch on… I’m not sure anyone would stand up. Their watch is this,” he continued, referring to his iPhone 5.

Cook was pessimistic on the current crop of multi-functional wearable devices currently on the market, however. “I would say [amongst] the products that are doing more than one thing, there’s nothing that’s going to convince a kid who has never worn glasses or a band or a watch to wear one, or at least I haven’t seen it,” he continued. “So I think there’s lots of things to solve in this space. It’s an area that’s ripe for exploration.”

Cook’s comments come amidst a flurry of activity in the emerging market for wearable devices and roughly ten days after Credit Suisse issued a report saying the market for wearable devices had hit “an inflection point” and will have “a significant and pervasive impact on the economy,” reaching $30-$50 billion over the next 3-5 years.

Fashion and luxury brands, who make a significant portion of their revenues selling personal accessories like bracelets, watches and eyewear, have been noticeably absent from the wearable technology space.