Swatch to launch watch operating system in competition with Google and Apple

Picture credit: Swatch

Swatch Group said it’s developing an alternative to the iOS and Android operating systems for smartwatches as Switzerland’s largest maker of timepieces will compete with Silicon Valley.

Swatch Group’s Tissot brand will introduce a model around the end of 2018 that uses the Swiss-made system, which will also be able to connect small objects and wearables, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek said in an interview Thursday.

The technology will need less battery power and it will protect data better, he said later at a press conference.

Ben Wood, an analyst with CCS Insight, said there were dangers in Swatch trying to build its own system, adding that it would be hard to compete with Google, Samsung and Apple, which had more resources in this area.

“Swatch may be able to develop its own software platform, but attracting developers to get access to the most popular apps needs an operating system with scale. Just look at how BlackBerry ended up abandoning its own software,” Wood said.

Hayek’s strategy contrasts with that of LVMH watch chief Jean-Claude Biver, who earlier this week unveiled an upgraded TAG Heuer smartwatch the brand developed with Google and Intel.

Competition from smartwatches has hurt low-end watches the most, and Hayek has been adding electronic functions into Swatch’s own less expensive brands such as Tissot and its namesake timepieces, according to Bloomberg.

This month, Swatch said it developed the world’s smallest Bluetooth chip for use in watches and household objects, according to Bloomberg.

Nick Hayek said the biggest problems facing competitors’ smartwatches related to energy consumption and privacy. Swatch Group, whose brands include Omega, said last month it was working with Swiss research institute CSEM to launch an “ecosystem” for connected objects by the end of 2018, according to CNBC.