A recent trademark filing from Apple is adding fuel to the speculation that the company will soon be entering the smartwatch space.
The company was reported to have applied for the trademark rights to the term iWatch in several nations, including Japan and Russia.
The term has been casually used to refer to a rumoured Apple wrist-mounted iOS device, and it has been rumoured that Apple is working with third-party firms to develop such a device.
While the filings could indicate nothing more than an interest by Apple to trademark the term for possible use in the future, the move is helping to fuel further speculation that a new hardware offering from the company is on the way.
A wrist-mounted iOS device would be able to wirelessly sync with other iOS devices and could be used to display information such as song titles or data including time and weather conditions.
Earlier this month, a pair of reports suggested that Apple could be unveiling its iOS watch device as early as this autumn.
If an Apple smartwatch is introduced to the market, it would be thrown into competition with one of the hottest new names in the consumer electronics market. Following a historically successful Kickstarter campaign, the Pebble smartwatch is looking to hit the retail space with a store deal with US big-box firm Best Buy.
While Apple will no doubt bring its immense brand power and consumer appeal, the Pebble would have the advantage of having several months to establish itself on the market, potentially setting the stage for a retail showdown over the holiday shopping season.