Apple still hiring for iWatch project, 2014 launch looking more likely

Despite earlier reports to the contrary, it does not look as if Apple(s AAPL) will have a wearable computing device to sell by the end of this year. The latest word is that the company is still working to overcome some pretty tough engineering problems that come with building a wearable device, and it is still staffing up for the project, according to the Financial Times.

From the report:

The company has begun hiring “aggressively” for the project in recent weeks, say people familiar with Apple’s plans for the wearable device, a move that shows it has stepped up development but which raises questions over the ability of its own engineers to develop wearable technology.

The FT also quotes an anonymous source that says Apple is experiencing some “hard engineering problems that they’ve not been able to solve,” hence the move to bring in the outside talent.

That Apple would have to bring in experts from outside to build a product wholly new to the company is not surprising or new; it’s what Apple did to build the iPod, iTunes and the iPhone, for example.

Apple tends to do this through small acquisitions — like FingerWorks, for example — the company whose technology became the basis for the iPhone’s touchscreen. But individual hires wouldn’t be surprising either. Apple’s most recent high-profile hire, Paul Deneve, former CEO of Yves Saint Laurent, looks to be someone who could help Apple market and sell a wearable accessory.

What’s clear from the FT’s story, based purely on timing and logistics, is that, if true, we’re not looking at an iWatch that will be ready to go this year. It may be ready to go a year from now, which would be mid-2014. But, as Apple has lately demonstrated a preference to release major products in the fall, right before the holiday season, it seems like late 2014 would make sense.