Is there room in the world for more luxury smart watches? Intel and Google think so. The two tech giants are joining Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer to design and launch a luxury smart watch by the end of this year.
The watch, which hasn’t been named, will be powered by an Intel-designed chipset and run Android Wear, Google's modified version of its Android mobile operating system that’s optimized for wearables. The price for the watch also hasn’t been announced, but TAG Heuer said it could arrive any time between October and December.
TAG Heuer will design the watch itself. The product, if all goes as planned, will help usher Intel and Google into the wearables market.
The announcement about the new watch was made Thursday at the Baselworld Watch and Jewelry Show in Basel, Switzerland.
Not Many Details
Google has gotten behind Android Wear recently, introducing an Android Wear ad on the day of Apple's attention-grabbing Apple Watch unveiling, earlier this month.
We contacted Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Utah-based Jackdaw Research, for his take on the collaborative effort. He said the lack of details about the watch makes it hard to know what it will be like, but that the mixed pedigree should prove interesting.
"TAG Heuer obviously makes great watches, but Android Wear is a very different kind of approach," says Dawson. “This could end up being a best-of-both-worlds product, or it could be a Frankenstein’s monster.
"It’s potentially a big step forward for Android Wear, since Google’s existing OEM partners could never launch a luxury watch with any credibility," continues Dawson. "And it’s a continuation of Intel’s strategy to work with non-traditional technology players to create wearables, since it’s had a hard time getting technology companies on board in either mobile or wearables."
Will They Want It?
Intel is interested in garnering attention for the hardware platform it’s developed for wearable devices based on stripped-down, ultra-low power x86 processors that it brands as Quark. As part of its initial foray into the wearables market, the chip giant teamed up with fashion house Opening Ceremony at New York's Fashion Week last year to showcase MICA, a smart bracelet built on Intel technology and billed as a "feminine fashion accessory with communications capabilities."
Dawson said the wild card for Google and Intel will be whether the price of the new luxury watch matches up well enough with the quality to make people want to buy it -- and whether all the companies involved with the project can overcome their disparate visions for what a watch should be.
"What Intel hasn't done yet is sell a whole lot of Quark processors to makers of smart bands, smart watches, fitness trackers, and the like," says Dawson. "What's more, Intel's wearable platform currently incorporates a fair bit of circuitry based on rival ARM's technology, which surely rankles in a company famously committed to populating every corner of the computing world with its x86 architecture."
In the meantime, the Apple Watch is due to go on sale April 24, and will range in price from $350 all the way up to a whopping $17,000 for an 18-karat gold model.