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Casio to launch smartwatch that competes with Android Wear, Apple Watch

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Casio is known for introducing digital watches with unique smart features. But its president says its upcoming smartwatch will be more refined and focus on wearability, not quirky features.

You could argue that Casio has been making “smart” watches long before Apple and Google popularized the term. But roughly four decades after it introduced the digital watch, Casio Computer Company of Japan announced it will make a modern-day smartwatch to compete with the aforementioned companies, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to Casio President and COO Kazuhiro Kashio, the watch will target men with interests in outdoor sports and leisure activities. Such an aim will dictate the design and appearance of the watch, which Kashio says will be comfortable and stylish.

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For its latest effort, Kashio says Casio will focus on creating a watch that’s more refined. The company has a history of introducing novel features, like a heart rate monitor and a schedule manager, but not executing it well, according to the Journal. “At times we just showed off with quirky features and then pulled those products when they didn’t sell well,” Kashio says. “We are trying to bring our smartwatch to a level of watch perfection: a device that won’t break easily, is simply to put on, and feels good to wear.”

Even though Kashio says the smartwatch would be affordable and practical, the $400 price tag doesn’t make it a bargain. That price puts it directly in competition with the Apple Watch, as well as the upper echelon of Android Wear smartwatches, like the LG Watch Urbane, so it will be interesting to see what Casio will bring to the table. Kashio did not disclose to the Journal what features will be included.

The Casio smartwatch will be released in March 2016, though by that time, the company will likely hope that its name will carry some weight. Casio will enter a market that eerily mirrors the smartphone market in that it’s dominated by Google and Apple. Even Pebble, which is arguably the pioneer of the current smartwatch market, will provide stiff competition. Still, we shouldn’t underestimate Casio’s capabilities; after all, its watch business is highly profitable and accounts for half of Casio’s total sales, the Journal says.

While Casio currently doesn’t have a smartwatch that directly competes with the likes of Android Wear and Pebble, the company does offer a few versions of its G-Shock watch that connects to Apple and a few Samsung Galaxy devices. These watches alert you to incoming calls, messages, and any calendar and reminder notifications you have on your phone. In addition, they allow you to control your music from the watch itself.

Kashio says the company will launch in Japan and the United States, with no announced plans of further international availability.