Apple filings set off speculation over an iWatch

THE LAUNCH of Apple’s long-awaited smart watch appeared to move a step closer yesterday as filings revealed that the company had applied to trademark “iWatch” in Japan.

Apple submitted the application last month with Japan’s patent office, under a category for a handheld computer or watch. The company is also seeking to trademark the name in Russia, although Probendi, an Italian software firm, has registered “iWatch” in Europe.

Analysts and investors have speculated about the possibility of Apple introducing an internet-connected watch for months, as sales of the iPhone begin to flatline.

Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive, recently hinted that the move is likely. In May, he said wearable technology is “profoundly interesting”, particularly on the wrist. Cook is often seen with a Nike FuelBand – which fits around the wrist and tracks exercise – and sits on Nike’s board.

An iWatch would be likely to connect to an iPhone or iPad, and could be used to control music services, read messages on the move, and track movement.

Apple’s shares have been in freefall since breaking $700 last September, and were trading below $400 before yesterday’s news, which saw them rise by 3.2 per cent to $409.22.

The company’s phenomenal growth caused by the success of the iPhone and iPad has slowed in recent months, and in April it reported its first fall in quarterly profits for a decade. This slowdown has led to calls for Apple to introduce new products, with one other possibility being an Apple-branded TV set.