Through its "Engineered by HP" program, the company once known more for printers and PCs is increasingly moving into the realm of smart watches and wearables. The devices it has released or previewed so far, however, take a much more traditional approach to look and design than, say, the Apple Watch.
Last week, HP announced it was teaming up with Movado Group to develop connected watches that are "responsive, not intrusive." And yesterday the company said it is also collaborating with Titan, a joint venture between the Tata Group and the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corp., the world's fifth largest manufacturer of wristwatches.
Both partnerships are part of Engineered by HP, which is aimed at creating wearable devices that are "relevant for a new era of access and connectivity." Devices developed through the program are designed to integrate with both iOS- and Android-powered smartphones.
'Reinventing Everyday Accessories'
"Engineered by HP is reinventing the experience consumers have with everyday accessories by making existing objects smarter through innovative materials, design and technology, to keep people connected to the way they live today," said Sridhar Solur, general manager for wearables and smart platforms at HP, in a statement.
The devices designed through the program so far include the Chronowing Smartwatch (Image: Engineered by HP), available now for $349.99, and two models of the Movado Bold Motion, which haven't yet been released but can be reserved for an unspecified price.
Designed by U.S. menswear designer Michael Bastian, the water-resistant Chronowing Smartwatch features a black dial built into a stainless steel case, with a sub-dial ring that allows a user to change to either a digital or analog clock display. The watch adjusts automatically to local time zones, can be used to manage calendar appointments or select music tracks and volume remotely, and can filter and display streaming content for weather, sports, stocks or news updates.
An Analog-to-Smart 'Bridge'
IDC analyst Ramon Llamas told us HP's approach is "interesting." What remains to be seen, though, is whether there's a meaningful market for wearable devices that fall somewhere in between the old-fashioned analog watch and something like the Apple Watch, he said.
For HP, "it's an entirely new product line . . . and that's a daunting task," he said. On the other hand, it seems that there's been a need for some time now to build a bridge from analog watches to smart ones, he added.
"What this kind of misses, though, is is there a reason to buy such a watch?" Llamas asked. While brand names like Movado and Titan will certainly appeal to some customers, "I don't think it'll be the be-all and end-all," because most potential watch buyers already carry smartphones that provide such real-time alerts and much more, he said.
Time will tell whether HP's approach has a sweet-spot appeal to a segment of the watch market, but, in the meantime, it's a safer way to go, Llamas said. And for Movado and Titan, it's a way to differentiate their brands.