HOME · Twitter · Flickr · LinkedIn · publications · @ Ars Technica · Running IPv6 (Apress, 2005) · BGP (O'Reilly, 2002) · BGPexpert.com · presentations · iljitsch@muada.com

Should Swiss watch makers attempt a smartwatch?

Posted 2015-01-07

Matt Richman thinks that TAG Heuer, maker of Swiss luxury watches, shouldn't waste time making a smartwatch:

❝TAG Heuer’s smartwatch won’t sell. There’s no market for it.

In order to have even a chance of being as feature-rich as Apple Watch, then, TAG’s smartwatch will have to pair with an Android phone. However, TAG wearers aren’t Android users. Rich people buy TAG watches, but rich people don’t buy Android phones.❞

I couldn't disagree more.

At this point, the Apple Watch is barely more than vaporware. The ascend of the smartwatch is in the very early stages. All kinds of things can happen.

Yes, Apple has three advantages: the most desirable potential smartwatch wearers tend to be iPhone users, and Apple can integrate the Apple Watch and the iPhone any way they see fit. They're also in the position to build custom chips.

So yes, Apple is going to be in the best position to do what Apple is doing: building a smartwatch that's barely more than a dumb terminal that uses the iPhone's computing power. However, that's more a limitation than a feature. Wouldn't a smartwatch with its own cellular connectivity be much better? It's probably too early for that right now, but that could change a few years down the road.

Also, how necessary is the deep integration between the phone and the watch? Most watch functions that need an assist from the phone could work just fine using a third-party app that runs in the background on the iPhone. The main issue would be the phone-related features, but apparently the Pebble can hook into those to a reasonable extent today.

Last but not least, Apple needs to sell tens of millions of watches to make for a viable new product category. This means the average price will have to be much lower than the price of a Swiss luxury watch. So Apple needs to depend on scale to provide value, while a company like TAG Hueur can use much more expensive materials and processes and still have good margins, although they'd have to depend more on off-the-shelf electronics.

Sure, it's entirely possible that the Swiss luxury watch makers are in trouble. But it's still way too early to write them off.

Search for:
RSS feed (no photos) - RSS feed (photos only)
Home, archives: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015