Swatch said this week it’s making final preparations to enter the smartwatch market, with CEO Nick Hayek revealing the device will launch in August.
Speaking to shareholders at the company’s annual gathering, Hayek said the watch would be released first in Switzerland and “one big country.”
Yes, that does all sound rather mysterious, doesn’t it – we’re guessing that means either the U.S. or China, but who knows? Australia was pretty big the last time we looked.
Our hunch is that it’s going to be China, as the company has already inked a deal with bank-card organization China UnionPay, paving the way for contactless payments with the wrist-based device.
As for the proposed summer launch, it’s worth keeping in mind that Hayek said back in March its debut smartwatch would be ready by May. So let’s see if he’s right this time around.
Whenever it comes and wherever it lands, Swatch will he hoping its device helps stave on any threat to its traditional watch business posed by high-tech offerings from the likes of Apple, Samsung, and early entrants into the space like Pebble.
But Swatch’s effort may not be the bells-and-whistles product some are expecting. Hayek said earlier this year he had no interest in creating “a reduced, minimized mobile phone on your wrist.”
The CEO said the Swatch smartwatch will include limited technology, including Bluetooth to enable messages and notifications to be sent between the device and a paired smartphone, and NFC to allow for the earlier-mentioned contactless payments.
The watch will reportedly work with Windows and Android operating systems, and, according to Hayek, will require little attention when it comes to charging.
“Whoever brings a battery for a smartwatch to the market that you don’t need to charge for six months has a competitive advantage,” the CEO said earlier this month, adding that engineers at the company have been working “intensively” on developing a solution. It’s not clear what form this’ll take, though it’s possible the device may run on a watch cell battery that can last for many months, or incorporate a tiny generator that feeds off the motion of a weighted rotor activated by arm movement.
If the smartwatch sector takes off in a big way, Swatch knows its traditional watch business could suffer. Its somewhat cautious entry into the market demonstrates it is willing to move with the times, a decision that could certainly grow in significance in the coming years.