Casio will release a $400 watch next year, but it’ll have to compete with Apple, Samsung, LG, Motorola, and others for the affections of customers.
Back as early as a few years ago, Apple was rumored to have an iWatch in store. The company didn’t release it, but Samsung took advantage of the time and space and announced the Galaxy Gear in 2013. This wasn’t Samsung’s first smartwatch on the market (nor the first smartwatch that had ever been released), but it started to get smartwatches some serious attention despite small sales. Samsung went on to release a few more smartwatches, and Google managed to announce its Android Wear smartwatch platform the following summer.
At the end of 2014, Apple finally released the Apple Watch on the market, having sold about 2 million since pre-orders were announced earlier this year. Apple’s massive 74 million smartphone sales set the company up for a nice piece of the smartwatch pie, but it seems as though Apple’s entrance into the market has influenced the move of companies such as luxury smartwatch manufacturer Tag Heuer and now, Casio. The latest announcement shows that Casio sees promise for the market and wants to provide its own take on what a smartwatch should be.
The old-school watch manufacturer intends to bring a smartwatch of its own to market in March 2016. The company says that the smartwatch will look good and feel good and be aimed at men who love outdoor activities. To put these statements into perspective, it’s likely that Casio’s smartwatch will look similar to LG’s G Watch R. The G Watch R runs Android Wear, but is the kind of smartwatch you’d expect someone to wear outdoors while hiking, camping, fishing, and even while surfing or mountain climbing or biking.
Casio has provided little details on what you can expect from the display, apps that it’ll provide, or even what OS the watch will run, but the Japanese watchmaker CEO Kazuhiro Kashio says that the smartwatch will cost around $400, which places it in the same range as Samsung’s Gear S and Apple’s Apple Watch.
Casio certainly has a name with its old-school watches, and that name will likely pay off for Casio with its own smartwatch. However, Casio will have to do more than rely on its legendary name to make a dent in the smartwatch market. A number of smartwatches look luxury today since many a consumer wants to blend fashion and tech in nearly impossibly ways, but Casio’s watch will need to do more than look good and feel good.
One such category Casio will need to tackle effectively is battery life. The Apple Watch has a battery life of 18 hours, and the Apple Watch’s battery life doesn’t hold a candle to Android Wear smartwatches which can get up to 36 hours of battery life. Samsung’s Gear S may not sell as well as Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch, but the Gear S is the King of smartwatches at the moment when it comes to battery life: the Gear S can operate for 4-5 days on a single charge, which is something that few smartwatches from most well-known manufacturers can match at the moment.
The next feature Casio will need to get right is that of cellular connectivity. Samsung’s Gear S provides 3G connectivity, and we may see Samsung add 4G LTE capabilities in the new round, Gear A smartwatch the company will announce this Fall with the arrival of the Galaxy Note 5. Casio will have to make a decision about connectivity, and that decision will determine whether or not it will go with Android Wear for its smartwatch platform.
UK modular smartwatch company Blocks has decided to create a forked version of Android for its modular smartwatch because Android Wear (Google’s smartwatch platform) doesn’t yet allow cellular connectivity. Google’s platform just received Wi-Fi capabilities a few weeks ago. So, what platform will Casio choose for its smartwatch? The company is likely to run with its own version of Android, since Microsoft has a fitness band and may create a smartwatch of its own, and Apple owns iOS and will only produce its own devices for its own platform.
Casio’s smartwatch price of $400 isn’t bad, but what will the device offer in terms of capabilities? We don’t know at this point. We’d like to see a device that offers more functionality than current smartwatches such as the Apple Watch. A number of smartwatch makers have focused on fashion to the exclusion of functionality, and thus, have few features that stand out from other watches. This is the case when it comes to Android Wear. What we’d like to see is a smartwatch running Android that gives the Gear S a run for its money.
Casio will step out into a heavy-hitting market next year when its smartwatch arrives, and the company’s decision to tailor the new gadget towards men who love the outdoors may or may not isolate the company’s smartwatch in a market where so many companies want to win any consumer, whether male or female. After all, there is a growing smartwatch segment for women, some who don’t mind masculine-looking smartwatches and some who want a “lady-crafted” device. How will Casio reach those customers?
Tag Heuer, due to its rival inspiration from Cupertino, will bring its own smartwatch, known as the Carrera Wearable 01, to the market in November for $1,400. Tag Heuer’s smartwatch is said to provide 40 hours of battery life, over twice the amount of Apple’s first-generation Apple Watch.