Swatch will unveil its own smartwatch in the next two to three months.
Known for its colorful and eye-catching line of watches, Swatch was initially dubious about entering the smartwatch business, CEO Nick Hayek told the Bloomberg news agency. But now the company will compete against the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and a host of others for a share of this growing market.
And what would distinguish a Swatch smartwatch from similar products? Experience, according to Hayek.
Swatch has been in the watch trade for decades, already creating features that could be part of a smartwatch, Bloomberg said, citing long-lasting, bendable and thin batteries. As another example, the company's Tissot lineup already offers hightech touch-screen watches outfitted with such features as an altimeter, compass, and sensors specifically geared for divers.
The upcoming smartwatch will connect to the Internet "without having to be charged," Hayek said. It will also allow people to make mobile payments and work with both Windows and Android software. Hayek made no mention of support for Apple's iOS. But the Swatch smartwatch could reach the market about the same time as the Apple Watch, which now is timed to launch in April.
Smartwatch makers have faced a host of challenges in creating consumer-friendly products. Such issues as battery life, watch size, the overall comfort of the watch and its compatibility with popular smartphones are all factors that could determine the success or failure of the product. Swatch's years of experience could give it an upper hand. But it will still be forced to compete with some of the tech industry's major companies as well as players such as Pebble, which announced this week that it has shipped more than 1 million smartwatches.
A spokesman for Swatch confirmed the new smartwatch via the following statement shared with CNET:
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.
The spokesman added that no other information is available on the watch for the time being. But Migros and Coop are Swiss retailers, which could indicate that the watch will be available only in Switzerland, at least initially.
Just a couple of years ago, Hayek had dismissed the idea of a smartwatch, saying that the screens are too small for communication and the devices need to be charged too much.