At a moment when it’s hard to be bullish about smartwatches, Swatch isn’t just embracing the category. It’s going all in. Swatch, Switzerland’s biggest watchmaker, isn’t just planning to launch a smartwatch, the company is actually developing its own operating system in hopes of competing with the likes of Apple and Samsung (which uses a forked version of Tizen).
The news comes via an interview with Swatch CEO Nick Hayek, who stated, “there’s a possibility for wearables to develop as a consumer product, but you have to miniaturize and have an independent operating system.” The statement comes on the heel of Tag Heuer’s unveiling of a new super high-end modular timepiece.
But Tag’s product, while innovative (not to mention prohibitively expensive), was built around the latest version of Android Wear, a tact taken by fellow traditional timepiece maker Fossil for its umbrella of branded products. Swatch will be taking things into its own hands with a smart addition to its Tissot line due out sometime around the end of next year.
With a launch window that far out, it’s no surprise that Hayek is keeping tightlipped about details, though the in-house OS will be focused on something many current devices are sorely lacking: battery life. The product will be focused on “think[ing] small,” according to the exec, requiring less power to run.
From the sound of things, it may well be referring to something akin to an analog smartwatch of the ilk available from companies like Nokia (née Withings), and for that matter, Swatch’s still forthcoming Smart Touch, which was announced this time last year at Baselworld in Switzerland.
Whatever form the device ultimately takes, the company will have a tough road ahead of it, as consumer interested in the space appears to have slowed in the past year, with the exception of some top contenders like Apple. Though a number of companies do seem increasingly interested building a ground-up solution, as is the case with Fitbit, whose CEO also announced the company’s intentions of building every part of its own upcoming smartwatch in-house.
In Swatch’s case, the move appears to be an attempt to stem the course of the past decade as cell phones and smartwatches have eaten into the company’s budget offerings.