Sources told FT that the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has begun hiring “aggressively” for the iWatch project in recent weeks. While the positive spin on this would be that Apple has increased development efforts on the smartwatch, the negative point of view is that the move raises questions about the company's ability to develop wearable technology with the engineers it already has.
One source said that the iWatch involves “hard engineering problems that they (current Apple engineers) have not been able to solve." That being said, the iWatch has apparently progressed from an exploratory project to one which has several dozen employees under its development umbrella.
Rumors of an iWatch have been rampant for months. Other rumors have pointed to Microsoft and even Google creating their own smartwatches.
Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of cell phones -- not just smartphones -- is developing a smartwatch, the company confirmed in March. This differs from Apple, Microsoft, or Google, none of which have stated they are actively developing that sort of product.
It's unclear if Apple is targeting employees from rival Google -- which is on the cusp of releasing a consumer-ready version of its Google Glass smartglasses and has already released test versions to some -- or startups such as Pebble.
Apple has also been looking into acquiring companies that could assist in the development of technologies related to an iWatch. However, with other companies looking into the same sort of technology, and with Apple's stock price far below its one-time $700 per share hight, Apple is having trouble not just recruiting, but retaining its employees.
As an example, one source said that a senior member of the iWatch team, who had been considering leaving Apple, opted to stay after being given a substantial pay increase.
Given the timing of the report and Apple's hiring campaign, it's now believed the company is looking to release a smartwatch -- if it does, as Cook could still end the project -- in the latter part of 2014.