Mass production of Apple's first smartwatch will start in July, a source familiar with the matter has said.
The still-unnamed device, which Apple followers have dubbed the iWatch, will be the company's first foray into a niche product category and the commercial launch could come as early as October, according to the source and another person familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because Apple's production plans are private.
The smartwatch display will be slightly rectangular and is likely to measure 2.5 inches diagonally, one of the sources said, adding that the watch face will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape, and will feature a touch interface and wireless charging capabilities.
While the device will be able to perform some functions independently, like most other smartwatches tasks like messaging and phone calls will require connection to a smartphone, according to the source. The device will only be compatible with gadgets running Apple's iOS, one of the sources said.
Apple expects to ship 50 million units within the first year of the product's release, according to on of the sources, although these types of initial estimates can be subject to change.
The watch is already in trial production at Quanta, which will be the main manufacturer, accounting for at least 70 per cent of final assembly, the source said, and 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.
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 declined to comment. Quanta, LG Display and Heptagon also declined to comment.
Apple's smartwatch follows similar devices by Samsung, Sony, Motorola and LG Electronics, but so far the gadgets have failed to ignite mass adoption. Many are hoping that Apple's entry into the field of so-called smart wearables will transform the industry like the company's iPhone did in 2007.
Apple has already dropped hints of its plans in this arena, hiring the former chief executive of French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent, a unit of Kering SA, and proclaiming that it will introduce "new product categories" this year.