Huawei Watch to launch October 15 in Australia from AU$549

Huawei's Android- and iOS-compatible smartwatch will launch mid month in the hopes of tapping into the wearables market, despite costing AU$50 more than the Apple Watch.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Chinese technology giant Huawei has unveiled the launch date and pricing for its smartwatch in Australia, with the wearables available in stores from October 15, though its high pricing point -- more expensive than even the Apple Watch -- could inhibit uptake.

In regards to specs, the Huawei Watch has a 1.4-inch, 400x400, 286ppi AMOLED touchscreen; a 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor; 512MB of RAM; 4GB of internal storage; a 300mAh Li-battery charger that magnetically connects to the watch to charge within 75 minutes; a gyroscope, accelerometer, vibration motor, and heart rate sensor; Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support; and is 42mm in diameter and 11.3mm in thickness.

The main drawcard, however, is the fact that the smartwatch runs Android Wear 1.3.0.x software, based on Android 5.1, which is compatible with iOS devices. It can therefore be used by both Android and iPhone owners.

It also has a sapphire crystal watchface and stainless steel band.

"The Huawei Watch offers a range of smart features in a carefully-crafted timeless design," said Howard Chen, director of Huawei Australia's Consumer Business Group.

"Today, consumers are not only looking for a feature-packed smartwatch; they're looking for a fashion statement. The Huawei Watch is the first watch on the market to truly bridge the gap between fashion and technology."

This focus on high-end fashion has taken a toll on pricing, however, with the silver and black leather band option costing AU$549; the silver and silver mesh strap option being priced at AU$649; the silver and silver link bracelet also costing AU$649; and the most expensive option, the black and black link bracelet, setting customers back AU$749.

By comparison, the entry-level Huawei Watch in the United States costs $349.99 on Amazon; the stainless steel watch with silver link and mesh bands are $399.99; and the highest-tier version of the device is $449.99.

Smartwatch pricing within Australia has come under scrutiny of late, with industry analyst firm Telsyte last month revealing new figures for the use of smartwatches in the Australian market -- saying that only 205,000 of the wearable devices were sold during the first six months of 2015.

Telsyte's Australian Smartphone and Wearable Devices Market Study 2015-2019 partially attributed the negative growth in the smartwatch sector to a lack of apps, as even 10 percent of those who had purchased the devices have stopped using them.

Apple is currently dominant in the smartwatch sector, with 64 percent market share in Australia for the half year to June 2015 -- though Telsyte noted that this was primarily due to the absence of new Android smartwatches being launched, which could be changed by the new Huawei Watch.

"The Apple Watch remains a luxury gadget, with its sales price typically more than twice the average of rival Android-compatible smartwatches," Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi said.

"It is difficult to see mass market consumers paying as much as premium tablets or smartphones for wearable technology that does not have significant new or unique features."

Fadaghi added that the premium price Apple charges for its wearables is impacting its sales; the cheapest watch is priced at AU$499, and the most expensive at AU$17,000.

"Smartwatches are not selling as fast as lower-cost fitness bands, and our surveys show consumers are, in majority, not willing to pay as much as a premium phone or tablet for a smartwatch," he told ZDNet.

"The ideal price point, we think, is AU$200 to AU$300 for both individual buyers and for the gifting market."

According to Telsyte, Australia has 2 million smart wristband users. As such, there is a market for Apple and Huawei to tap into, were prices to be reduced.

"In some ways, the smartwatch is sitting between smart wristband and smartphone, where one typically has the price advantage and the other is heavily involved in most people's day-to-day life," Alvin Lee, senior analyst at Telsyte, said to ZDNet in a statement.

"The current market demand for wearables is at a lower price point, where we are still seeing strong uptake in smart wristbands. We anticipate the cost of the smartwatch and the amount of unique features or must-have apps will be the key factors driving future demand."

In April, Telsyte stated that the popularity of wearables was such that it had the effect of decreasing sales in tablets.

"The average cost of a smart fitness band is similar to an entry-level tablet, making it a popular alternative purchase for those who already own a tablet," Lee said at the time.

In July, market research from Slice Intelligence showed that Apple Watch sales in the US had dropped from 200,000 per day during the first week of availability to approximately 5,000 per day at the beginning of July. Of these sales, two-thirds were from the cheapest model available.

Huawei's financial results for the first half of 2015 revealed that it had generated revenue of 175.9 billion yuan ($28.3 billion), a year-on-year increase of 30 percent, with operating margins of 18 percent.

"Huawei's mid-range and high-end smartphones ... have made solid progress, helping us guarantee quality and sustainable growth in the consumer business," Huawei's chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou said.

"Thanks to the extensive application of our cloud computing, storage, agile network and other flagship products and solutions in the smart city, finance, education, and ISP markets in and outside of China; our growth in the enterprise business began to pick up in the first half of this year."

Huawei was tipped to be China's first handset manufacturer to ship 100 million smartphones in a single year. Last year, Huawei shipped 138 million devices, including 75 million smartphones; a 7.8 percent increase over its 2013 results.

Google also unveiled the Huawei-built Nexus 6P on Tuesday.

The Huawei Watch will be sold at Australian retailers JB Hi-Fi, Dick Smith Move, Harvey Norman, JR Duty Free, Huawei stores, and some jewellers.

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