Luxury watchmaker Tag Heuer is teaming up with Google and Intel to build a smartwatch based on the Android Wear operating system.
Tag is the first high-end watch designer to make a move into the nascent smartwatch space, with the product due for launch in the fourth quarter. Little detail was announced on either pricing or functionality.
“We believe that wearable technology is going to take off but it’s not something that can be driven by tech companies only. We believe it requires a real partnership between established players in this space,” commented Michael Bell, corporate VP and general manager of Intel’s New Devices Group, at a media event at Baselworld in Switzerland today.
The pricing of Tag’s smartwatch is likely to compete with the most expensive version of Apple’s new watch, dubbed Apple Watch Edition, which costs upwards of $10,000.
“Tag Heuer’s decision to ally with technology companies to deliver a smartwatch will be the first of many similar deals,” noted analyst house CCS Insight. “The buzz around the Apple Watch has raised consumer awareness levels to the point that traditional watchmakers can no longer ignore this emerging opportunity.”
Indeed, earlier today US-based Fossil Group announced its own tie-up with Google and Intel. The company makes a wide range of watches under both its own brand and others’, including Emporio Armani, Diesel and Burberry.
Google’s Android Wear operating system supported more than 720,000 devices last year, out of a total of 4.6 million smart wearable bands, according to Canalys. Mobile device vendors Motorola, LG, Asus and Sony have entered the smartwatch market using the operating system. However, to date fitness tracking wristbands have outsold the smartwatch sector as a whole by a wide margin.
Apple Watch – based of course on Apple’s own operating system, iOS – is expected to ship in huge quantities. IHS predicts that Apple will sell an estimated 18 million Apple Watches in 2015.