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In Japan and around the world, Apple’s iWatch trademark application hints at new product line

After months of speculation, a trademark application from Apple in Japan for the “iWatch” hints at the tech giant’s foray into wearable computing. But does it actually mean anything?

Ever since the introduction of the iPad, pundits and the public alike have looked to Apple for “one more thing,” a new product that, like the iPhone and iPad, reinvents a product category. The main targets of speculation over the past few years have been the TV and the watch, and it looks like the latter category is coming a little closer to fruition.

An image that was submitted as part of an Apple patent application for a wearable computing device.
An image that was submitted as part of an Apple patent application for a wearable computing device.

The Associated Press reported that Apple has applied for the iWatch trademark in Japan, almost a month after MacRumor forum members spotted news of an iWatch trademark application in Russia and noted an even earlier trademark application — apparently filed in December — in Jamaica.

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This news, coupled with the occasional leaked patent application, has reinvigorated Apple watchers even as the company’s chief executive, Tim Cook, said the company was doubling down on secrecy.

But what does it all mean? It’s hard to tell: Apple often files for a number of patents and trademarks, some of which are put into production relatively quickly, many of which never see the light of day.

Om Malik, a noted technology writer and founder of GigaOm, even speculated that the rumors might be driven by a good, old-fashioned corporate COINTELPRO:

“We have been privately musing that Apple’s iWatch might just be a head fake,” he wrote. “A way to throw off the rivals (and even insiders at the company) and send them on a wild goose chase.” Apple’s actual plans would likely be far more ambitious than building Watch 2.0.

What theories do you have about what Apple is up to? Let me know at Hive@Boston.com, or share onTwitter and Facebook.

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