After being linked to rumors of working with Apple and others to launch smartwatches, Swatch today revealed it is working alone on a smartwatch that is currently scheduled to be launched next summer. The Swatch Touch is just one of the many smartwatches the Switzerland-based watchmaker is working on, though it says it could be working with other technology companies for other smartwatches.
Swatch’s Chief Executive Nick Hayek told Reuters that the new watch will allow the wearer to count the number of steps they take and calories they burn. “All the big technology firms want to work with us and I don’t rule out that we are or could be collaborating in some areas. But we can also do many things on our own,” he told the newswire service.
In the past year, we have seen the increasing potential of wearable technology and the market for smart glasses, smart watches, and fitness bands is estimated to reach about $3 billion by the end of 2014.
Technology giants like Samsung, LG and Sony realized the untapped potential of wearable products and have already released a slew of smartwatches and smartbands in the market. Even Apple is expected to unveil its iWatch next week along with the iPhone 6 at a press event on September 9.
This onslaught of tech companies coming out with smart wearables, inevitably poses a threat to the market for traditional watches. IDC expects the worldwide wearables market to grow to around 112 million units by 2018. This rising trend pressurizes these traditional quality brands to reinvent their products and keep up with the changing times.
Initial rumors expected Swatch to team up with Apple and construct a dream team for Apple’s iWatch project. However those rumors were squashed by Swatch when they announced their plans to upgrade their own watches and maintain their supremacy in the watch market. However, the CEO does not rule out a future possibility of collaboration and told Venture Beat that conversations about partnerships with Apple and others have taken place — and that collaboration with some tech companies may be happening already.
This move by Swatch is strategic to keep itself relevant with the changing market needs. The fall of digital cameras can be solely attributed to better cameras in smartphones. IDC claims that overall global shipments of digital cameras has fallen by 30 percent in 2013 as more and more people have started making smartphones as their first choice of clicking photographs. Canon sold 23 percent fewer cameras in 2013 as compared to the year before. Even Sony and Fuji’s sales were down by a huge 35 percent last year. The report said that this industry previously had been growing by double digit for almost ten years before this fall.
Traditional watch makers are upgrading early to avoid the ill-fate that might come their way if they do not reinvent. Swatch, however, is not the first traditional watch maker to think of the need to upgrade. Timex recently announced its arrival in the smartwatch segment by announcing the Ironman One GPS targeting runners and other fitness buffs.