The original design for Andy Rubin's Android phone was scrapped in 2007, after Apple announced the iPhone. Chris DeSalvo of Google said:
as a consumer I was blown away. I wanted one immediately. But as a Google engineer, I thought ‘We’re going to have to start over.'
Apple was not the 'inventor' of the multitouch phone. It was being testing in universities and by other companies - namely Google, according to Mike Elgan. He says the iPhone's elegance and simplicity "accelerated" the smartphone revolution, and later Apple would do the same thing with mobile software with the launch of the App Store. Both are examples of what Apple does best. They take existing ideas - often good ones that have been executed poorly in the past - and reinventing them with a level of fit and finish that's hard to compete with. He thinks Apple has a particularly good shot of succeeding, and will enter the market with one interpretation of how mobile devices should look, at least in the medium-term.
Elgan, like other pundits, argues that 2014 will be the year for (what has come to be known as) wearable computing. No longer will we have to pull phones out of pockets like the animals of yesteryear. No no. Instead they will reside on our faces and on our wrists, awaiting our commands. He is probably correct and Elgan has sources that hint at this.
To the best of my knowledge, the following companies have products, plans or patents for smartwatches, with most of them shipping by the end of 2014: Acer, AGENT, Androidly, Apple, Appscomm, Cookoo, Dell, EmoPulse, FiLIP, Foxconn, GEAK, Google, Goophone, Hot, Hyetis, I’m Watch, Intel, inWatch, Kreyos, LG, Martian, Metawatch, Microsoft, MyKronoz, Neptune, Nissan, Nokia, Omate, Pebble, PHTL, Qualcomm, Rearden Technology, Rock, Samsung, Sonostar, Sony, sWaP, Toshiba, Umeox, Vachen, Xiaomi and ZTE.
That’s just watches. I also believe the following companies have products, plans or patents for smart glasses: Apple, Atheer, Baidu, Epiphany Eyewear, GlassUp, Google, Icis, ION, Lumus, Meta, Microsoft, Oakley, Optinvent, Recon Instruments, Samsung, Sony, Technical Illusions and Vuzix.
The form factors will vary greatly, he says - ranging from clip-on devices to goggles. But, he doesn't feel this era of computing will be plagued by the grim and vicious dogfights of the mobile age. He argues that phones, despite their initial variation, ended up all being the same - all converging on the same rectangular shape. Other companies will compete with a variety of form factors in an effort to differentiate. Eglan goes onto say that most of these will be companion devices to phones. He said it will be a "Wild West in form, function, features and price" because there is no right wearable form factor.
The counter argument could be made, however, the majority if wearable form factors will fail and people will gravitate toward a select few, such as watches/bracelets, glasses, and clips. Also, while there might not be a war between device form factors, companion devices made by Apple, Google, Samsung (and other juggernauts) might not be cross platform. There is value in lock-in for companies, and there's a good chance that mentality will carry over into the wearable age.