Casio Throwing Its Hat Into Burgeoning Smartwatch Market Early Next Year

As smartphones became increasingly popular, the market for wrist watches took a nosedive. The irony is that smartphone makers are now focusing their attention on making wrist watches vogue again, and their strategy is to build smart functionality into these old school accessories. So far it's working, but doesn't it seem like watch makers would have the advantage here? Casio thinks so and it's going to give Apple and company a run for their money in the smartwatch space.

Having been almost four decades since introducing its first digital watch, Casio is now planning to enter the wearable market with its first smartwatch. To help itself stand out from the competition, Casio will take a bit of a different approach -- the company says its wearable will be a watch with smart functions, rather than a smart device that is also a watch.

Casio OmniSync
Casio's Bluetooth-enabled OmniSync

Don't count Casio out of the running. The company has a history of getting high-tech with its wrist watches, including its G-Shock, a rugged watch that can link to smartphones via Bluetooth. There's also the OmniSync, a sports watch with Bluetooth that can link to fitness applications, and of course wrist watches with built-in calculators like the Databank series.

Kazuo Kashio, one of four Kashio brothers from Casio's founding era, recently retired as president after serving as such for 27 years and handed control to his son. Of the new products Casio is working on, Kashio says "we are trying to bring our smartwatch to a level of watch perfection -- a device that won't break easily, is simple to put on and feels good to wear."

Kashio also said the watch will be priced around $400. That's a bit more than Apple's lower-end Apple Watch that starts at $349, and quite a bit more than several Android alternatives. It will be interesting to see what Casio brings to the table to command a $400 price tag.