Apple is very likely developing a smartwatch. It will probably be called "iWatch." It will also probably be amazing and could even create a new Apple app ecosystem. You can bet people will camp out for days outside Apple stores to be among the first iWatch owners.\n\tI wouldn\u2019t get out the camping equipment just yet, however.\n\tThe iWatch could be released in 2014. But Apple has a clear track record of waiting ever so patiently before capitalizing on new technologies or product categories. The strategy: Let others go first with crude products that consumers find disappointing. Then, having polished the new technology or product until it gleams, Apple makes its move. \n\t\n\t(Photo credit: CULTOFMAC.COM)\n\tTo get a good read on the future of Apple products, it helps to take a look at the past. \n\t* Laptops with color displays. As inconceivable as it may seem today, early laptops had black and white or grayscale screens. By 1991, color LCD displays, which were a big improvement over earlier efforts, had started becoming more common in laptops. Apple didn\u2019t release a color portable until 1993. Wait time: Two years.\n\t* MP3 players.\u00a0The first mass-produced MP3 player was Saehan\u2019s MPMan, which was sold in Asia beginning in spring 1998, according to\u00a0CNET\u00a0and other sources. A U.S. version was released that summer. Apple\u2019s first iPod debuted in October 2001. Apple procrastination period: Three years.\n\t* Smartphones. IBM\u2019s Simon, released in 1994, is widely considered to be the first device to resemble the gadgets we now call smartphones. Handspring\u2019s Palm Treo, released in 2002, came even closer to today\u2019s smartphones and enjoyed some mainstream success. Apple\u2019s iPhone debuted in 2007. Time lapse: At least five years.\n\t* Tablets. Microsoft introduced its tablet PC platform for businesses in 2001, though there had been other tablet computers released before Microsoft\u2019s. The first iPad was released in April 2010. For tablets, then, Apple waited at least nine years before making its move.\n\tApple hasn\u2019t always been a tech laggard. But when it\u2019s led the charge into a new product category, the results have often been disappointing. \n\tFor example, in 1993, the Newton was among the first commercial PDAs released, beating the Palm Pilot to market by three years. But the Newton\u2019s handwriting recognition received waves of criticism, and Apple, under returning leader Steve Jobs, deep-sixed the Newton OS program in early 1998.\n\tRemember QuickTake, Apple\u2019s digital camera? It was released in 1994 years before such cameras were mainstream. The QuickTake also died a relatively QuickDeath and was dropped in 1997.\n\tThe smartwatch market only really got started in 2013. For Apple to release a smartwatch in 2014 would mean the company has only given the market one year before jumping in, which feels way too soon given the examples above. More to the point, the smartwatch technology today is still too unpolished for Apple's tastes. For example, though the Pebble watch has its fans, I returned mine after a few weeks. The OS has too strong a "hackerish" feel for mainstream consumers and the watch requires way too many software updates, among other issues. In short: It\u2019s not ready for prime time. (See my July 2013post for more.) Consumers haven\u2019t exactly lined up to buy Samsung\u2019s Galaxy Gear, either.\n\tGiven Apple\u2019s track record of entering a new product category, then, and the current state of smartwatch technology, I\u2019m doubtful we\u2019ll see an iWatch in 2014. Of course, I could be wrong. Rumors point toward a mid 2014 debut, though at least one Apple supplier said in March 2013 that such a device was at least "three years away."\n\tApple has a lot to lose from a premature product offering and much to gain by waiting and waiting...and waiting until it gets a new product just right. Meanwhile, consumer desire for, and anticipation of, an iWatch will only build. If there\u2019s one thing Apple has a history of doing beautifully, it\u2019s creating consumer desire and anticipation.