Taiwan's Quanta Computer will start mass production of Apple's first smartwatch in July, a source familiar with the matter said.
The unnamed watch, which Apple followers have dubbed the iWatch, will be the company's first foray into a niche product category that many remain skeptical about, especially as to whether it can drive profits as growth slows in tech gadgets.
The production will be a boost to Quanta, whose work for Apple so far has focused on laptops and iPods, product lines that are in decline. Quanta's role, though, is likely to raise questions about what involvement Hon Hai Precision Industry Co, one of Apple's biggest suppliers, will play in production.
Mass production will start in July and the commercial launch will come as early as October, according to the source and another person familiar with the matter.
Apple will introduce a smartwatch with a display that likely measures 2.5 inches diagonally and is slightly rectangular, one of the sources said. The source added that the watch face will protrude slightly from the band, creating an arched shape, and will feature a touch interface and wireless charging capabilities.
The source said Apple expects to ship 50 million units within the first year of the product's release, although these types of initial estimates can be subject to change.
Like many other smartwatches, Apple's watch will be able to perform some functions independently, but tasks like messaging and voice chat will require connection to a smartphone, according to the source.
Most mainstream smartwatches collect data about the user's heart rate and other health-related metrics, in addition to facilitating tasks like checking e-mail and making phone calls.
A third source said LG Display Co Ltd is the exclusive supplier of the screen for the gadget's initial batch of production. It also contains a sensor that monitors the user's pulse. Singapore-based imaging and sensor maker Heptagon is on the supplier list for the feature, two other sources said.
Apple declined to comment. Quanta, LG Display and Heptagon also declined to comment.