While Swatch certainly won’t be partnering with Apple on the iPhone maker’s upcoming Watch despite an ill-fated rumor that surfaced last year, the watchmaker does plan to go toe-to-toe with Apple promising its own version of a smartwatch due out soon. Bloomberg reports that Swatch plans to bring its answer to the Apple Watch to market in the next 90 days, and unlike the Apple Watch, it will work with Android phones.
The device will communicate via the Internet “without having to be charged,” Chief Executive Officer Nick Hayek said in an interview. The Swatch smartwatch will also let consumers make mobile payments and work with Windows and Android software, he said.
It’s unclear if Swatch intends for its own smartwatch to also be compatible with iPhones like the Apple Watch or if the company is only targeting competing platforms, but Swatch CEO Nick Hayek’s claim that its Internet-connected watch won’t need to be charged will be interesting if the company does indeed deliver with functionality that competes with an Apple Watch or even Android Wear smartwatch.
While functions including new ways to communicate and health and fitness tracking features are promised for the upcoming Apple Watch, long battery life is not yet at the top of the Apple Watch’s key achievements as we understand it. Apple has yet to reveal the battery life it claims the Apple Watch will achieve, but the company has been quick to set expectations that you will be charging the Apple Watch at least every day.
As for Swatch’s mentioned mobile payments service presumably intended to compete with Apple Pay, Swatch’s CEO said the company “is in talks with more retailers on its payment system after agreements with Switzerland’s two largest retailers, Migros and Coop.”
Apple has admitted it still has “a lot of work to do” getting Apple Pay off the ground and used by everyone, but the iPhone maker has a sizable lead against the Switzerland-based watch maker in the mobile payments space.
For reference, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared late last month that Apple Pay accounts for $2 out of every $3 spent using contactless payments with the three major credit card companies, and that’s before the Apple Watch even launches. Apple Pay’s launch has even served to boost Google Wallet’s usage by as much as 50%, reports have claimed.
Currently, Apple Pay is only available for use in stores with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, but Apple Pay will become available to iPhone 5, iPhone 5c, and iPhone 5s users wearing the Apple Watch after its debut in April as the Watch supports Apple’s mobile payment system as well.
This all may ring a bell for you though, as Swatch’s CEO is on record as discounting the Apple Watch and smartwatches in general months before its unveiling, a scenario which then and now seem analogous to the situation Palm CEO Ed Colligan saw himself in ahead of the iPhone’s introduction.
Colligan famously said about Apple and the iPhone that “PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in.” Hayek in 2013 seemed to channel his inner Colligan saying “Replacing an iPhone with an interactive terminal on your wrist is difficult. You can’t have an immense display.”
But rest assured, Swatch lovers, a smartwatch with Android-compatibility and a new mobile payment system should be out in the next two to three months in some form, Hayek says.