Tag Team Takes On Apple Watch

Where Apple goes, others soon will follow. Just days after making its big smartwatch reveal, Google has forged a partnership with Intel and Swiss watch designer Tag Heuer for a luxury smartwatch of their own.

Tag Heuer announced the partnership with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) at the big Baselworld watch trade show in Switzerland on Thursday. The trio plan to launch the device at the end of the year, powered by an Intel chipset and running Google's wearable operating system, Android Wear. It didn't reveal any details about pricing or design.

Like Apple, Tag Heuer didn't announce any plans for operator involvement, suggesting it's likely to rely on Bluetooth and WiFi for its connectivity. (See Apple Watch Has No Time for Operators.)

Google is already on board for a number of watches, including the Motorola 360. Market researchers at Canalys.com Ltd. says about 720,000 Android Wear-powered watches were shipped in 2014. Intel competitor Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) has also tried its hand at smartwatches, making its own Toq prototype that it said was intended to jumpstart others into making watches using its chipsets. (See Qualcomm to Offer Toq Smartwatch and Slide Show: Moto Mobility's New Chicago Digs.)

For more on wearables, visit the Internet of Things content channel here on Light Reading.

I have a black, diamond-studded watch that I wear because I like the style of it. When asked what time it is, however, I pull out my phone because the watch hasn't kept time in two years. It's just jewelry at this point. At the same time, I've also purchased two FitBit-esque fitness-tracking devices in the past two years that I've worn and loved for three months and then relegated them to a drawer, never to count a step again.

I'm telling you this not to point out how lazy and superficial I am, but because I don't think I'm atypical. Watches that look like smartphones, or are solely geared toward fitness tracking, are probably only going to take off amongst a niche of tech-loving early adopters. For smartwatches to go mainstream, they need to look like watches and act like watches, not like smartphones that are boxy and need constant charging and software updates.

They also need to be generally affordable and, in time, it's likely that other companies will enter the market, competition will intensify, components will become cheaper and the price will drop far enough to make this a wearable device market to watch (sorry).

I'm confident we'll see more watch makers join forces with Android, and the market bifurcate between Android watches and the one Apple watch, much like what happened with smartphones. Strategy Analytics Inc. agrees -- it forecasts that global smartwatch shipments will grow 511% from 4.6 million units in 2014 to 28.1 million in 2015, with Apple making up 55% of the market.

Ultimately, this growth and the fact that traditional watch makers, not just mobile phone manufacturers, are getting in on the trend will be good for consumers as there will be a watch for everyone -- from those who want to quietly tell people how hip (and rich, in some cases) they are when they shake hands, to those who are in for the technology, to those who just want to know what time it is.

— Sarah Thomas, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading

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pcharles09 3/24/2015 | 12:56:26 AM
Re: Apple Watch @Phil_Britt,

Early adopters and the super techies will hop on but I doubt mainstream will run with a smart watch. Especially not at that price point.
Phil_Britt 3/23/2015 | 10:43:46 AM
Re: Apple Watch Need it...of course teen daughters need it, just as they need the latest iPhones, etc., when the previous models are perfectly serviceable. 

Of course, how many people need a Rolex, or anything Nieman Marcus sells. There will always be those that have to have the high end or the latest and greatest. The question will be what size of market will Apple need for the watch to add to the bottom line? Or will it sell enough other products and services around the watch that the device itself can be a successfull loss leader.
MikeP688 3/22/2015 | 3:51:06 PM
Re: Apple Watch (Brief Thoughts) Happy Spring to all... :-) 

Just like many throughout our Community, I have been assessing the advent of the Apple Watch just like the leading lights of our World (Google et. al) have as always.   As for me , personally, I wear a watch as a Tribute to my Mom who bought a old Citizen Watch as a B-Day Gift years ago.    I will admit I am tempted by the propsect of a Smart Watch.   I am glad to see Google & the rest getting on the bandwagon--the problem is Google's last attempt at a "wearable" (not withstanding the "spin") was not too successful.  The other issue is the Apple Watch price tag--but we have also complained about the iphone tag as well and look at what they're doing--so far eating everyone for lunch!!!  For me, Pebble (if I can pull off an Ebay Buy) will be my first foray....and then, who knows? :-)

Fascinating, though, to be witness to history..isn't it?


kq4ym 3/21/2015 | 8:46:03 PM
Re: Apple Watch I haven't worn a watch since college days. I'm not sure I'll ever be convinced I need one ever again. Even if it has all sorts of goodies and health "benefits" it's going to have to be pretty inexpensive before I'll buy one. But, in this world market there's still enough folks out there who want the latest, or the fad of the season to make profitable sales for some lucky companies.
sarahthomas1011 3/20/2015 | 10:59:10 AM
Re: Apple Watch I completely agree that the iPad was a beauitful, well-designed, portable, high functionality device, but did anyone really need it? The smartphone and laptop essentially acheive everything iPads can; it just does it better.
Kruz 3/20/2015 | 10:43:01 AM
Re: Apple Watch @Sarah: I have no doubts in Apple's being a maven when it comes to new technologies creating cases for its devices but we can't deny that there was a real need for iPad when it first came out, just like the iPhone. The iPad was innovative, it brought the PC to you rather than you having to go to the PC. It was great until phablets appeared and is on the decline now. And when it was first announced, it was portability at its best.

I am not saying watches are not needed, but the way is long, and the same thing applies to first gen wearables: my jawbone rests peacfully in my drawer. And again I agree that if Apple can't pull it, no one can, at least for now.

Ariella 3/20/2015 | 9:49:38 AM
Re: Apple Watch @Sreedy For $17K I'd agree with you. In fact for that price, I'd want it to be capable of teleporting me. But many people consider $350 to be a fair price for a designer watch even if it doesn't have Apple's technology.
Ariella 3/20/2015 | 9:48:08 AM
Re: Apple Watch @Susan well, price is something one can grasp quite quickly. In truth, even if it offers the full function of a computer, it still does cost more. So you're not exactly paying for the function but for the ability to carry that on your wrist and with the Apple name.
sarahthomas1011 3/20/2015 | 9:47:02 AM
Re: Apple Watch For $17,000, or even $350, I'd want and expect both.
sarahthomas1011 3/20/2015 | 9:46:02 AM
Re: Apple Watch I see your point, Kruz, but there wasn't a real use case for the iPad either. Of course, you can do a ton with it and a lot of people don't know how they lived without them now, but Apple created the category for tablets. It's hoping to do the same with the watch -- it wasn't the first to launch one, but probably has the best chance at making people think they need this device.
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