It has been theorized by industry analysts that Apple Pay’s big breakthrough may when Apple Pay is introduced into the new Apple Watch. When that happens, Apple Pay will take off due to the ease of tapping a watch compared to whipping out one’s phone. This might have been the theory that caused Swiss watchmaker Swatch, in a bit of a reversal from previous skepticism from the idea of a smartwatch, to announce that it will be retailing a smartwatch of its own within the next 3 months as a way of competing with the Apple Watch, Bloomberg is reporting.
The smartwatch is expected to work with Android and Mircosoft software, and include GPS and a mobile payments feature activated by NFC technology, similar to how Apple Pay works. While chief executive officer Nick Hayek had been a skeptic of smartwatches being the next big thing, once saying that Swatch was already a smartwatch because “it made you look smart”, the company has developped technology that could work in a smartwatch with the proper case, such as thin, bendable batteries ideal for the iconic flexible wristband. Swatch also had touchscreen enabled watches as early as 1999 with the Tissot model, which now includes an altimeter, a compass, and sensors to record a diver’s descent. The end goal of this technology though, according to Hayek, will need to take time to develop after the company’s recent “innovative” patent blitz, and will have a future in other industries “like the automotive industry.” Swatch is also currently in talks with retailers on how the payment system will be implemented, a difficult task considering the upfront costs of reworking POS terminals to suit NFC availability, which has somewhat hindered Apple Pay’s availability and might point the way for other methods of payment recording along the lines of LoopPay.
Despite initial skepticism and future challenges though, smartwatches could become a key industry in the not too distant future. According to Citigroup, smartwatches are poised to become a $10 billion industry by 2018, largely among those that wear watches already. Swatch will also be joined by fellow Swiss businesses Tag Heuer and Richemont in smartwatch development.