Apple Inc.’s wearable, the Apple Watch, hasn’t hit stores yet. But it has sent both technology companies and traditional watchmakers scrambling to release smart watches of their own. Now Swatch Group is stepping into the ring and plans to roll out its own smart watch in the next three months, CEO Nick Hayek told Bloomberg on Thursday.
Features of the watch include communication over NFC (near-field communication), mobile payments, and apps that work with Windows and Android devices and software-- all without the need to charge the device. The last feature differentiates Swatch’s offering from many wearables currently on the market, many of which struggle to last more than a day without being plugged in.
The timeline set by Switzerland-based Swatch would pit its smartwatch against the Apple Watch, which will begin shipping in April. While the wearables market is still nascent, its predicted to boom over the next few years, as high has half a billion devices by 2019, according to Cisco.
Swatch’s move to create a smartwatch is a complete reversal from nearly two years ago, where its CEO dismissed the idea of a smartwatch from Apple spurring a “revolution.”
"Personally, I don't believe it's the next revolution," Hayek said at a press conference, according to Bloomberg. "Replacing an iPhone with an interactive terminal on your wrist is difficult. You can't have an immense display.”
But Hayek’s change of mind isn’t the first time a watch company has changed course on their view of wearables. In December, LVMH’s watch chief, Jean-Claude Biver, announced that his company was pushing forwards with their own smartwatch, after previously dismissing wearables, according to Reuters.
Swatch issued an official statement on the wearable:
“Swatch will launch a new generation of its Swatch smartwatch in the next two to three months. Functions will include communication, mobile payments at stores such as Migros and Coop, and applications that work with Windows and Android - without having to be charged. Separately, Swatch will present its new Swatch Touch at the end of the month.”