It looks as though Apple is about to get some major competition in the luxury smartwatch space. Yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook lambasted existing players in the smartwatch field, stating, “We were arguably the first modern smartphone, and we will be the first modern smartwatch—the first one that matters.”
Today, three companies are working together to ensure that Apple doesn’t get a stranglehold on the smartwatch market with its Apple Watch. Google, which already provides the Android Wear platform for wearables, is teaming up with chipmaker Intel and luxury watchmaker TAG Heuer. The three companies will work together to bring the first truly luxury-oriented Android Wear device to the market by the end of the year.
"Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility,” said Jean-Claude Biver, President of the Watch Division LVMH Group and CEO of TAG Heuer. “Our collaboration provides a rich host of synergies, forming a win-win partnership, and the potential for our three companies is enormous.”
"The quality of Swiss watches is renowned worldwide. When this is allied with the creative technology and global power of two companies like Intel and Google, using the Android Wear platform and based on Intel technology, we can see the launch of a technological revolution in our industry, of which I am proud to be a pioneer today with TAG Heuer,” added Guy Sémon, General Manager of TAG Heuer.
We know that Google will be supplying its Android Wear operating system; what’s less certain is what Intel will be offering to TAG Heuer. We’d be money on Intel’s Quark SoC architecture making its way under the hood.
TAG Heuer Carrera
Given that this will be a watch that will have silicon for brains, don’t count on this new smartwatch to carry the coveted ”Swiss-made" label when it is released. This is the concession that traditional watchmakers will have to make in order to compete in the burgeoning wearables market.
According to Canalys, just 720,000 Android Wear-based smartwatches were shipped during all of 2014 out of total wearables market of 4.6 million units. Samsung lead the way in shipments with its plethora of smartwatch offerings, while Pebble landed in second place with just over one million shipments for 2014.
Apple is looking to make a big splash with its Apple Watch, which will debut on April 24. The Apple Watch will start at $349 for an Apple Watch Sport with a 38mm aluminum casing and will ratchet up in price to $17,000 for an Apple Watch Edition with 38mm 18-karat gold casing and Modern Buckle.