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Baselworld 2017: Day 2: Smartwatches

by Steven Waltzer | Mar 24, 2017

Baselworld 2017, the largest annual wristwatch tradeshow kicked off yesterday in Basel, Switzerland.  The event will last through March 30th and will be covered daily by Strategy Analytics' WDE (Wearables) service

Yesterday’s Day 1 coverage, on several key smartwatch & hybrid launches is available here, and our Press Day coverage from Wednesday is available here.

Below are a few of our top picks on smartwatch announcements from Day 2:

  • Michael Kors is taking a serious risk and going all in on smartwatches, announcing and Baselworld that all new men’s models for 2017 will be semi-smart (with Bluetooth connection, activity tracking, and notification support) or smart (with Android Wear 2.0).  While it is reportedly driven by a struggle to keep up with strong demand for Michael Kors smartwatches in 2016, this may cause those customers who strongly prefer the simplicity and much longer battery life of a traditional wristwatch with mechanical movement only to flock to other brands. It also alienated potential watch buyers who do not own a smartphone.  Michael Kors announced two new Android Wear 2.0 smartwatches at the show (the men’s Grayson and women’s Sophie) and also plans to expand smartwatch sales into several new markets this year, including mainland China, Brazil, and others.

Exhibit 1: Michael Kors Grayson (left) and Sophie (right) Smartwatches

  • Swatch is planning to launch their own in-house ‘Swiss OS’ smartwatch operating system on a Tissot branded device by the end of 2018.  So far Swatch has not yet fully embraced smartwatches, but has experimented with adding mobile payments via the Swatch Bellamy model in 2016.  I expect opting to shy away from Android Wear will impact negatively on performance here, as consumers prefer a rich ecosystem of 3rd party applications in order to find far more use case scenarios.
  • Samsung is exhibiting at the show three new concept watches in partnership with Swiss luxury watch designer, Yvan Arpa.  First is a traditional Swiss movement with no smart features, but based on the design of the Gear S3.  Second, we have two new takes on the Gear S3, with the same technology included, but with more premium materials and a couple of custom designed bezel shapes.  Lastly, in a break from the traditional wrist-worn form factor, Samsung is showing a semi-smart pocket watch, likely including activity tracking and notification support, but lacking a color touchscreen and apps.  Samsung, which sticks with their own Tizen operating system on their smartwatches, will struggle to compete with the deep and quick expanding app ecosystems offered by Android Wear and Apple Watch OS, and should consider licensing Android Wear from Google on future models.

Exhibit 2: Samsung Concept Watches

You can tune into our Day 2 update tomorrow and can find our first blog about our expectations for Baselworld 2017 here.
Previous Post: Baselworld 2017: Day 1: Smartwatches & Hybrids | Next Post: Baselworld 2017: Day 3: Smartwatches

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