Ever eager to join the fashion bandwagon, chip giant Intel has joined up with TAG Heuer and Google to create a smart watch which they will launch before the end of the year.
TAG Heuer CEO Jean-Claude Biver told a press conference at a Swiss watch trade show that the deal is a “marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility”.
The watch will use the Android Wear platform and use Intel chips but it’s unclear quite how much it will cost when it’s released.
Intel suit Michael Bell, who is the general manager of Intel’s new devices group, said that making a luxury watch in collaboration with TAG Heuer and Google brings the vision of wearable technology that bit nearer.
The Google man, David Singleton, said that the Swiss watch has inspired generations of artists and engineers. And Google. He said that Google can now imagine a better, beautiful and smarter watch.
Apple releases its range of smart watches next month, and much will depend on whether that is a flop or a success. Intel has never been particularly brilliant at creating reference designs that have long battery lives and its other ventures into consumer technology have all, without exception, been damp squibs.
TAG Heuer doesn’t make cheap watches, so you probably have to have a chunk of disposable income to impress – or alternatively depress, your friends.
Giant watch vendor Swatch isn’t going to directly take on Apple in the smart watch market.
Instead it has what just might be a far more cunning plan.
According to CEO Nick Hayek, Swatch is going to start selling watches using inexpensive near field communication (NFC) chips, letting you make payments by just waving your wrist at the receiver.
Reuters said that Hayek’s view on Apple is that it is creating a new market for watches which it will be able to leverage. It won’t venture into what he described as having a mini mobile phone on your wrist.
Swatch hopes that people will buy Apple watches because lots of people don’t wear watches and if Apple succeeds in selling as many as it hopes, that will put it and other watch vendors in a stronger position.
Hayek is quoted as saying that Swatch is not in the business of upgrading software every year.
In any case, Swatch is going to introduce sort watches which will connect to Android phones and perform many of the functions of the Apple iWatch. You won’t have to pay hundreds or even thousands of US dollars for this functionality.
One of the biggest obstacles to using an Apple watch when they’re released is that the battery life won’t be very long.
And that’s prompted Apple to tell its developers designing apps for the watch to design them to be viewed for only 10 seconds or so.
It’s also told watch developers to keep distractions to a minimum – such as notifications pushed to users, according to Bloomberg.
The range of Apple watches, expected to be formally announced next week, at an event in San Francisco.
Analysts have estimated that sales of the watches, which certainly aren’t cheap, could be between 14 and 15 million during 2015. To use an Apple watch, it has to be linked to an Apple iPhone.
However, the jury is still out on how well smart watches will do. Short battery life will certainly limit their appeal, while many people will not see the advantage of having a smart watch as well as a smart phone, which also tells the time as well as doing lots of other things.
Apple releases its watches this year and that’s led CCS Insight to propose that this year is make or break time for the relatively new category.
It estimates that shipments of wearables will reach 75 million in 2015, a 158 percent increase compared to last year.
And the Apple watch will account for over a quarter of wearables that ship this year, it believes.
Analysts at the company believe that Apple will sell about 20 million watches by the end of this year. But if Apple is wrong – and the jury is still very much out on the future of such devices, it’s likely to hurt the entire wearables category of technology.
Right now, it’s fitness bands that are driving growth with products from companies like Fitbit and Jawbone.
It thinks that sales of these devices will double in 2015 to 40 million units.
It also says action cameras was the second biggest category in 2014, with six million of them selling in 2014.
If Apple thinks
it will have its own way in the smart watch category this year, it had better think again.
Swatch is planning to introduce a smart watch in the next three months and it’s going to have some advantages over the Apple device.
According to Bloomberg
, the watch can communicate with the internet without needing to be charged, will work with Windows and Android and will let you make mobile payments.
Swatch has something of an advantage over Apple too in that it’s been in the market for decades and has had touch screens since the end of the 20th century.
It also knows its market and has distribution deals that Apple cannot possibly match.
Further, attempts by companies like Intel and Google to launch TV services haven’t exactly been the dish of the day.
While some analysts are predicting huge sales of smart watches, others are more sceptical. Young people, by and large, don’t tend to wear watches and use their smartphones for telling the time.
People need to be convinced that spending money on duplicate functions makes any sense at all.
The jury is still very much out on whether people will want to have a smart watch on their wrists, but a report from Gartner appears to favour the “yes” rather than the “no” vote.
Gartner’s notion is that Chinese original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and original design manufacturers (ODMs) will drive the price of smart watches down – with Android devices averaging $150 a throw. That will mean that by 2016 smart watches will account for 40 percent of wrist worn devices, Gartner predicts.
Apple’s iWatch starts at $350 and won’t be available until next year.
Gartner’s Angela McIntyre, a research director at Gartner, said: “Apple has finally unveiled its watch, which we expect to trigger more consumer interest once it starts shipping in 2015.”
Another research director, Annette Zimmermann, said that the latest smart watches show imprvements in design and Android Wear will include voice search, turn-by-turn navigation, contextual reminders and taking notes via voice output.
One of the obstacles to acceptance, however, is the sheer proliferation of devices that need charging, Gartner thinks.
Legislation that makes it an offence to use a mobile phone while driving will also apply to the use of smart watches.
That’s according to the Daily Telegraph, which said today the Department for Transport confirmed using smart watches while driving will face the same sanctions as mobile phone use at the wheel.
It says the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) said that devices, such as the Apple iWatch is as dangerous to use while driving because it distracts motorists.
It quoted a representative for the IAM as saying smart watches could be more distracting than mobile phones because you have to take your hand off the wheel to communicate with it.
While the Apple iWatch won’t be available until next year, the IAM appears to think that the Apple tag will make them popular. It wants manufacturers of smart watches to warn of the possible dangers.
Drivers distracted by phones or other gadgets face three on the spot penalty points and a £100 fine if they’re pulled over by the police.
There’s not that many youngsters I know who wear wrist watches these days, apart from as a fashion accessory, maybe sometimes.
After all, the majority of kids have a smart phone on them, which is really a supercomputer that tells you everything you need to know, including the time.
So a report from Digitimes Research has me wondering whether the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.
The report suggests the entry of the Apple iWatch will boost the smartphone market, which, in the developed countries at least, has reached saturation.
Average selling prices of smartphones are falling but Digitimes Research seems to believe that if Apple releases its iWatch in the second half of next year, the brand power alone will boost the ASPs.
The research reckons that smart watch shipments will amount to 5.92 million units next year, 22.79 million in 2015 and 75.66 million in 2016, but that’s only if Apple gets its watch out.
Older people tend to wear watches and our eyesight isn’t as keen as youngsters’ – so the development of larger display smartphones has been something of a boon.
You can read more, if you can see the screen on your smart watch, here.