Swatch, the Biel, Switzerland-based watch-maker, is focusing its smartwatch efforts on the development of low-cost, “dumb” smartwatches, rather than diving right in with the development of a more expensive model that could serve as a realistic alternative to the Apple Watch. The move sees a huge company acknowledge Apple as a major player in the industry.
The news came in a report from the Wall Street Journal (via 9to5mac), and in it, Swatch is noted as stating that it wishes to “focus its smartwatch technology on its plastic Swatch brand in response to devices launched by Apple Inc.,” the Journal explains. However, this is only a limited-time plan: the report goes on to note that Swatch will ultimately focus on more expensive models, competing with the Apple Watch in the sub-$1,000 watch market.
The smartwatch Swatch is developing, however, can barely carry the title; as the article notes, the €80-100 “Swatch Bellamy,” a plastic Swatch-made smartwatch, is a regular watch with an integrated NFC chip for mobile payments. As 9to5mac highlights, this “dumb watch” is set to launch in the United States, Brazil, and Switzerland. But Swatch itself definitely isn't thinking about competing with Apple:
“We are not talking about competing with Apple,” said the colorful Mr. Hayek, who was dressed in a plaid shirt and scarf, occasionally donned a pair of Swatch sunglasses and puffed on a big cigar during the news conference. “They are consumer-electronics people and we don’t want to get into that sector.”- The Wall Street Journal
Apple, on the other hand, is continuing to develop its wrist-worn product: new bands (and perhaps software enhancements) are due at the company's recently-announced March event, and an all-new second-generation model should launch before the end of the year.
And so it's no surprise Swatch is avoiding competition with the Apple Watch. Anticipated sales are sky-high, and Swiss exports have declined as a result. All the while, Apple's hold on the smartwatch, wearable, and wristwatch markets tightens.