It’s not going to be about Android Wear and WatchOS for much longer when it comes to operating systems for smartwatches. Well, not if Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek has his way. The world’s biggest watch conglomerate has announced that it will develop a Swiss-made operating system that will serve as an alternative to the ones developed by Apple and Google.
Speaking at a press conference, Nick Hayek said the biggest problems facing existing smartwatches was energy consumption and privacy. According to a Reuters report, the Group is apparently working with Swiss research institute CSEM to launch an "ecosystem" for connected objects by the end of 2018. Swatch said this would offer absolute data protection and ultra-low energy consumption and would not need regular updates.
"I don't want to become the industry standard for smartwatches," Hayek was quoted as saying at a press conference on March 16. He said it would be dangerous if everybody depended on just one or two dominant operating systems. "In Switzerland we have a lot of expertise when it comes to creating something that is smaller, consumes much less energy, is independent and more cost-efficient and can go into little objects," he said.
CCS Insight expects the market for smart wearables to almost double to 185 million units worth $16.9 billion by 2021. According to a Bloomberg report, competition from smartwatches has hurt watches at the low-end of the price spectrum. It is no surprise that the Swatch Group has rolled out electronic functions in brands like Tissot and Swatch this far. The Group is said to be willing to supply third parties with the operating system and claims many companies have already approached them with interest.
However, industry analysts have been less than keen on the announcement citing that it will be an uphill task to overhaul the lead that Apple and Google have in the market. Some have also cited the example of BlackBerry, which has failed to catch up with the big two in recent years. Some have already expressed reservations that Swatch may encounter challenges as people use smartwatches expecting to use the same apps they have on their mobiles. “A proprietary operating system defeats the object,” one analyst told Bloomberg.
Hayek’s announcement comes in the week that two brands from the Richemont Group – TAG Heuer and Montblanc announced new smartwatches. You can read about TAG Heuer’s new Connected Modular 45 watch here.