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Apple marketing exec predicts Apple Watch is going to be 'huge'

Greg Joswiak, vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing, also says the iOS 8.0.1 bug, which caused phones to lose connectivity, was because of how the operating system was delivered, not because of the software itself.

Greg Joswiak, Apple vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing (right), chats with Walt Mossberg (center) and Ina Fried at the Recode mobile conference. Shara Tibken/CNET

HALF MOON BAY, Calif. -- The Apple Watch hasn't even launched yet, but it's going to be "huge" when it does, predicted an Apple marketing executive.

Greg Joswiak, vice president of iPhone, iPod and iOS product marketing, said on Tuesday that Apple set out to offer consumers plenty of choices with its first wearable -- including offering a couple of different sizes and multiple different bands. And people may ask Apple who the watch is for, but other devices have faced similar questions early on, he said.

"People asked us the same thing about iPhone," Joswiak said. "I think [Apple Watch is] going to be something that's one of these really huge devices."

Apple has had a very busy couple of months. The company in September launched its bigger-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus smartphones and showed off its first wearable, the Apple Watch. Apple also unveiled new iPads -- the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 -- and refreshed Macs during a more low-key event in mid-October, as well as launching its Apple Pay mobile payments system that same month. The products are key for Apple's continued growth in the mobile market.

Apple generates about two-thirds of its sales from the iPhone and iPad, but the markets for those gadgets are becoming saturated, with rivals including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Samsung battling for customers and the billions they spend on mobile devices. Apple's newest iPhones, however, have attracted a record number of buyers since their launch last month. The iPhone 6 has the potential to be the biggest product launch in Apple's 38-year history.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said during Apple's earnings call on October 20 that demand for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus " is far outstripping supply" and that things could stay that way through the end of the calendar year. The iPad hasn't done as well. Apple's newest tablets hit the market that same week, but analysts say the incremental changes likely aren't enough to attract buyers in droves.

Cook also appeared onstage at a Wall Street Journal conference on Monday. He said the new Apple Watch is a "profound" gadget that people will want to use so much they'll end up running down the battery every day and need to recharge it overnight. But even with the Apple Watch in the wings, Cook said that the iPhone, which delivers more than half of revenue and the majority of Apple's profit, will continue to be the company's biggest moneymaker for the foreseeable future. (Apple earlier this month announced it won't break out watch sales when the device is released.)

The Apple Watch marks Apple's first new product category since the iPad in 2010. It's also the first new push by the company under Cook's tenure. Cook had promised for over a year that Apple in 2014 would introduce and enter " exciting new product categories" beyond its wildly successful smartphones, tablets and computers. The Apple Watch, which will hit the market next year, is Apple's move to fulfill that vow.

The device comes in three designs -- the stainless-steel-cased Apple Watch, the aluminum-cased Apple Watch Sport, and the 18-karat-gold-cased Apple Watch Edition. The smartwatches will go on sale at a starting price of $349. The devices must be paired with an iPhone, and are compatible with the iPhone 5 , 5C, 5S, 6, and 6 Plus.

Cook, introducing the Apple Watch before more than 2,000 people, called it a "breakthrough" product. He described it as a "comprehensive" health and fitness device, walkie-talkie and remote control for the Apple TV streaming-box. Those factors alone set the Apple Watch apart from other smartwatches on the market, which tend to simply track steps, provide notifications and run very basic apps.

As for the iPhone, Cook said the smartphone brings in revenue from apps and services, including Apple Pay , a new mobile-payments system that went live last week. More than 1 million people activated the service in the first 72 hours, with Cook boasting there are now more credit cards activated within Apple Pay than in all other so-called tap-to-pay or touchless payment systems combined.

But Apple's chief acknowledged that the company is in a battle with retailers who may endorse rival payment systems as they seek to avoid paying transaction fees to credit card companies including MasterCard and Visa. Last weekend, drugstore chains CVS and RiteAid said they won't accept Apple Pay. "It's a skirmish," Cook said. "Merchants have different objectives sometimes. But in the long arc of time, you only are relevant as a retailer or a merchant if your customers love you."

Meanwhile, Joswiak said iOS 8.0.1 -- the buggy version of Apple's mobile operating system that prevented some iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users from making calls -- had issues because of how it was sent to users over servers, not because of the software itself.

"That obviously was a mistake," he said. " [But] what we try to do is very quickly fix them."

iOS 8.0.1, released September 24 and then swiftly recalled, aimed to fix issues that have plagued Apple's mobile iOS 8 software since it hit the market September 17. But many users immediately reported problems after downloading the update, including their iPhones no longer connecting to a cellular network. iPhone owners also reported issues with Touch ID after downloading the update, with some noting that the feature -- which lets people unlock their phones using their fingerprints -- was no longer working.

Apple ended up pulling iOS 8.0.1 about an hour after it first became available. The company later published instructions for users who downloaded iOS 8.0.1 before Apple scrapped the update. The steps helped users downgrade their devices to iOS 8 as Apple worked on a fix for the software. The company released iOS 8.0.2 September 25.