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Swatch takes on Apple Watch with lower-priced, payments-enabled offering

Wristwatch brand Swatch is focusing on mobile payments and a lower price point as it prepares to release its first smartwatch offering this summer and go up against the Apple Watch.

As more brands roll out applications for the Apple Watch, some consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the high price of the smartwatch. This suggests that there may be a strong market for wearables in a lower price range that also offer mobile payment options, as well as an aesthetically pleasing design.

“Swatch is making a smart and strategic move to integrate watches with NFC technology – if they want to continue to be a major player in the watch industry, it’s important for them to look at what leading brands such as Apple are doing in terms of innovation in the wearable space,” said Guillaume Lelait, general manager of mobile advertising agency Fetch, San Francisco, CA.

“The Apple Watch starts at around $379 and more luxury versions retail for over $17k, so Swatch may find success if they can offer a more affordable wearable option to their consumers.”

Low-price competitors
Swatch’s New Gent watches are equipped to work with NFC contactless payment technology, meaning that consumers will be able to wave their smartwatch-adorned wrist at a terminal to complete a purchase. The brand is estimating the devices to retail at approximately $5.49 more than its regular watches, making it an affordable buy for anyone who seeks to join the growing wearables frenzy.

Swatch claims it will partner up with a major global credit card firm for the beginning of the NFC payment rollout. It also may add contactless payment capabilities to some of its other brands.

The international brand’s CEO also said that the company is working on releasing a revolutionary battery for both smartwatches and automobiles next year.

Consumers are interested in the sheer convenience that mcommerce-enabled wearables offer them. Fitness trackers are also joining the action, making it simple for runners or joggers to visit a store during their exercise routine and make a purchase sans wallet.

American Express card holders in the United States will be able to make purchases using a wearable fitness tracker with an embedded NFC chip starting this summer, pointing to the potential for wearables to transform commerce (see story).

Retailers and wearables
Swatch is not the only retail brand making a play for wearables and adding them to its accessories collection. Luxury brand Tag Heuer is planning to sell a $1,400 smartwatch this year.

Meanwhile, Kenneth Cole hopes to grab some of the excitement around wearables for itself by rolling out a smartwatch collection that arrives in twelve styles and enables users to take selfies, suggesting that more fashion brands will begin to permeate the wearables space (see story).

The app sector for wearables is also growing more competitive, as plenty of mcommerce marketers seek to snatch a slice of the sales potential.

As the Apple Watch begins showing up on consumers’ wrists, numerous top brands from the travel sector are rolling out wearable applications to enhance their smartphone apps and drive sales via features such as keyless room entry and additional booking options (see story).

“Adoption for mobile payments has proven to be slow, and consumers seem to be more excited about Apple Watch’s message and call features as well as its fitness tracking capabilities,” Mr. Lelait said. “Swatch may want to think about integrating additional features into their watch such as fitness tracking functionality if they want to be a viable competitor in the space.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York