CEO of French luxury fashion house to head special projects for Apple

Speculations that Apple Inc. is doubling down on its wearable technology strategy were ripe yesterday as the computer company announced that it has hired the CEO of French fashion house Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) to head Apple’s special projects department.

Apple (NASDAQ:APPL)has not provided any details on what exactly Paul Deneve’s, former CEO of YSL, role will be. However, a spokesperson for Apple said he will be “working on special projects as vice president reporting directly to Tim Cook.”

Deneve has worked previously with Apple. From 1990 to 1997, he was sale manager and marketing manager for Apple Europe.

The 51-year-old Belgian national holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and a master of science in management degree from Stanford University. Deneve’s business management experiences is steeped in the fashion industry where he has worked for the fashion house Courreges in 1997, Nina Ricci from 2003 to 2005 and Lanvin from 2006 to 2008. He became CEO of YSL in 2011.

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Deneve’s presence in Apple has given technology industry analysts reasons to believe that wearable technology will be among the top priorities of the company.

Hiring someone with Deneve’s background would make sense if Apple intends to enter the growing sector, according to Francisco Jeronimo, analyst for research firm IDC.

The smart phone market is already saturated and Apple needs to come up with another product that will guarantee its growth in the wearable technology sector which is set to “explode in the next couple years,” said Jeronimo.

Cook himself has expressed eagerness to explore possibilities in the field of wearable computing.

Apple has 79 patents related to wearable technology and is reported to have a team of 100 people working on it iWatch project. The iWatch is expected to be a digital watch tethered to an iPhone or iPad that will provide a stream of content including calendar information, and email to the wearer.

Other companies are also experimenting with wearable technology such as British chip maker ARM Holdings (NASDAQ: ARMH) is aiming for sector with its new Cortex A-12 processors which are designed for the wearable device market and search engine Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) which is currently testing its Google Glass, a pair of Web connected glasses that can record and transmit images and data via the Internet.

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