Swatch to develop its own smartwatch OS

Apple dominates the smartwatch market, but the Swatch CEO said his company is developing a low-power, secure alternative to the current operating systems.
Written by Stephanie Condon, Senior Writer

Pebble aspired to be the "Swatch of smartwatches" but ultimately couldn't compete against Apple's watchOS. Now, Swatch itself is taking on the Cupertino tech giant.

The Swatch Group announced Thursday that it's developing its own wearables operating system to compete with Apple's watchOS and Google's Android Wear, according to reports.

The company, in partnership with the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology, will focus on developing wearables that are secure and low-power, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek told reporters. Battery life has been one of the biggest weaknesses of smartwatches so far.

"In Switzerland we have a lot of expertise when it comes to creating something that is smaller, consumes much less energy, is independent and more cost-efficient and can go into little objects," Hayek said, Reuters reports.

The company should roll out the OS via its Tissot brand in late 2018, according to Bloomberg.

Traditional watchmakers have suffered as Apple's smartwatch has overtaken the market. The Apple Watch currently accounts for half of all smartwatch sales, according to researchers at Canalys, and took in nearly 80 percent of total smartwatch revenues in Q4 2016. While Swatch is striking out on its own, Tag Heuer -- another Swiss brand -- earlier this week unveiled a high-end Android Wear smartwatch.

While these traditional brands try to catch up, the smartwatch market is expected to grow at a relatively slow pace, according to analyst group Jupiter, with less than 60 million smartwatches expected to be shipped annually by 2021.

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