Chinese electronics giant Huawei is targeting the heaviest of the heavy hitters in the watch market with its new Android Wear smart watch. The company has a gold-plated edition that runs $799.99. The black version runs $449 and a gold-plated version with a brown leather strap sells for $699.
Earlier today, the smart watches were posted for pre-order on Amazon, with a release date of September 2. However, that information has now been scrubbed from the e-commerce giant's Web site. But a cached version of the ad can still be found on Google.
The smart watch features a 1.4-inch circle AMOLED display with scratch resistant sapphire glass and a gold-plated stainless body, according to the specs that were posted on Amazon. It is compatible with most devices that carry an iOS 8.2 or Android 4.3 or later mobile operating system.
It looks like a regular wristwatch but acts like a smart watch. The Huawei model gets notifications and alerts for calls, texts and apps -- there are over 4,000 Android Wear apps from which to choose. Fitness tracking is also included, and there are over 40 preinstalled watch faces and swappable bands, according to the information from Amazon.
But it’s Not An Apple
We asked Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group, for his thoughts on the extravagant smart watch. He told us it is attractive and it's not a bad value.
“It has a good cross selection of features but the original reason folks bought watches, for the most part, was status,” Enderle said. “It is more of a statement than a tool, particularly today when we have other things that can tell time equally well that we carry.”
The difficulty for Huawei, though, is the brand itself, Enderle said. Folks associate luxury status with brands like Rolex, Apple, Ferrari and Prada, while they generally think of Asian brands, and especially Chinese brands, as being cheap, he said.
“If this fails it likely will be because of the brand and not the execution on the product itself,” Enderle said. “Huawei likely should have co-branded this with a luxury brand or created a luxury brand to sell this under much like Honda did with Acura, and GE did with Monogram. Under the right brand this could be very successful, Huawei isn't that brand -- at least not yet.”
Apple Watch Rising
The Apple Watch, by contrast, is selling. Apple is second only to Fitbit in the wearables market, according to market research firm IDC. Apple shipped 3.6 million smart watches in the second quarter of 2015. That’s just 0.8 million units fewer than Fitbit, which shipped 4.4 million devices.
The best may be yet to come for Apple. IDC noted that Apple is just getting started with its Apple Watch. The company has only rolled out the device in 16 markets and is only now starting agreements with third-party retailers.
"Anytime Apple enters a new market, not only does it draw attention to itself, but to the market as a whole. Its participation benefits multiple players and platforms within the wearables ecosystem, and ultimately drives total volumes higher,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's Wearables team, in a statement.
“Apple also forces other vendors -- especially those that have been part of this market for multiple quarters -- to re-evaluate their products and experiences," Llamas said. "Fairly or not, Apple will become the stick against which other wearables are measured, and competing vendors need to stay current or ahead of Apple. Now that Apple is officially a part of the wearables market, everyone will be watching to see what other wearable devices it decides to launch, such as smart glasses or hearables."
Posted: 2015-08-30 @ 5:41pm PT