It looks like some unnamed Chinese gadget maker has managed to pull off an even better trick with the iWatch.
We still don’t have any details on what the real iWatch will look like, cost, or what it will be able to do but there is already a knockoff on the market. It’s called the K1 iWatch, and it is available now with a price tag of around $100 (shipping included).
This brilliant specimen of Chinese
reverse-engineering precognitive-engineering has a 1.8″ screen with a 220×176 resolution, an internal microSD card slot, a VGA camera (with video ability), a headphone jack, Bluetooth, and an internal SIM card slot.
Oh yes, the K1 iWatch is better than the real thing in that it is a completely independent device. It is really more of a watchphone than a smartwatch, and (according to one source) it can work with T-Mobile or AT&T here in the US. It’s not clear to me that this device has a mike so it could require a Bluetooth headset in order to take calls.
There are conflicting reports on its CPU and OS, but as you can see in this video it clearly has an interface inspired by the iPhone:
Were you surprised to see a knockoff hit the market this quickly? I was. It’s only been 4 or 5 months since the iWatch rumors started circulating, and getting the software done that quickly is difficult, much less finishing the hardware design and getting the device into production.
But then I started looking into the K1 iWatch and I realized that it predated the current round of iRumors by a considerable margin. The demo video above is from September 2012, and I found a demo video for this watchphone that dates to 2011.
Way back in May 2010 ADR Studios posted their design concept for what the iWatch could look like. As you can see from the image at right it bears a striking resemblance to the K1 iWatch.
And if that doesn’t convince you, check out this demo video. It’s all CGI, of course:
I don’t know about you but I was surprised to learn that the fanboi interest in the iWatch was that old; that wasn’t a detail I picked up from the coverage of the current rumors. Luckily for me I have readers who know more about smartwatches than the average blogger.
In spite of what the shallow reporting might lead you to think, Apple isn’t inventing the first smartwatch, and Google, Samsung, and LG aren’t working to beat Apple to market. The smartwatch market is quite well established (though still small). There are a number of smartwatch models on the US market, including ones from Sony, Motorola (now Google), Casio, as well as the high profile smartwatches like the Pebble and the I’m Watch.
And if you want to take your chances there are at least several dozen different smartwatch models currently available on sites like AliExpress. This is where I bought my K1, BTW. Some sellers are shifty and from what I can tell all are shipping from China, so buyer beware.
All in all, I think the current smartwatch market resembles the US smartphone market in late 2006. Apple was rumored to be working on a smartphone, making the half dozen smartphone manufacturers a little nervous.
At that point the smartphone market had been around since the year 2000 (or 1996, depending on your definition of a smartphone). But in spite of 6 years of growth that market was still a niche. It wasn’t until after Apple released the iPhone that smartphones went mainstream.
That is pretty much what most bloggers expect Apple to do for smartwatches. They could well be correct, but I am not completely sure that Apple will come up with a design that they will want to release into the wild. It is still too early to tell.
P.S. In case anyone is interested the smartwatch market could arguably be dated as starting in 1983, if not earlier.
Thanks monopole, Name (required), and Ravi!