Swatch Set To Bring An Apple Watch Rival
The turning point in the smartwatch race is the emergence of traditional watchmakers in the segment, which until now was dominated by tech giants like Apple and Samsung. Recently, the world’s largest watchmaker unveiled its riposte to Apple Inc’s smartwatch, announcing a plan to put cheap programmable chips in watches that will let wearers from China to Chicago make payments with a swipe of the wrist.
According to a Reuters report, Swatch Group will start offering watches with near field communication (NFC) chips within two months, chief executive Nick Hayek said. Apple’s move into watches would open up a market where Swatch was already well positioned to compete, he said.
The Swiss company’s strategy appears to revolve around including individual tech features in different models rather than going head to head with Apple, the world’s most valuable firm, to create all-in-one smartwatches combining many functions.
“We are the world champions of integrating smart functions into a watch,” Hayek said. “We don’t want to produce a mini mobile phone on your wrist. Others can do that,” he asserts.
In April, Apple Watch will go on sale in nine countries and will be priced from $349 to $549 for the standard version, although a high-end “Edition” watch will sell for at least $10,000.
For its near-field chips, which will cost around 2 francs ($2) per watch, Swatch has teamed up with China UnionPay, the Chinese credit card association, as well as a Swiss bank and a major credit card company. Swatch is also launching a range of sports-themed “Swatch Touch” smartwatches which will be able to “buddy up” with a smartphone via a Bluetooth connection.
Analysts believe Switzerland’s watch industry is facing stiff competition from smartwatches landed by major players in technology. Elmar Mock, co-inventor of the Swatch watchbelieves the Swiss watch industry may ignore the Apple Watch at its own peril. He sees it repeating the mistakes from the 1970s, when it underestimated competition from Japanese quartz watches.
Canalys predicts that while Apple’s entry to the Smartwatch market will be a key driver behind the steady growth of smartwatches, while Google’s Android Wear ecosystem, driven by Samsung’s Galaxy Gear S, Motorola’s Moto 360, LG’S G Watch R, Asus’ Zenwatch and many others are wooing the burgeoning market. Other traditional watchmakers, such as French luxury group LVMH - the maker of TAG Heuer may also join the bandwagon soon. - All of it leading to the smartwatch market to boom.
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