Kate Spade, Fossil tap into smartwatch space
Kate Spade New York, partnering with Fossil Group, has become the latest retail brand with a touchscreen smartwatch, according to TechCrunch.
The Kate Spade New York Scallop Touchscreen Smartwatch, announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, comes in three different models, all of them installed with Android Wear 2.0 software, which supports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.
The TechCrunch report said the new watches connect with Google Assistant, and also have a Choose Your Look feature, enabling the watch to ask the wearer what color outfit and accessories they are wearing on a given day, and change the color of the watch face to match. However, the watches don’t have GPS, NFC mobile payments capability or fitness and health tracking features.
CES is proving to be a showcase for new smartwatches. Danish company Skagen also announced its first touchscreen-enabled smartwatch, Matrix unveiled an Internet of Things-connected smartwatch without a battery and Blocks furthered its concept of a modular smartwatch capable of adding components and features such as Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant.
Kate Spade previously dabbled in the segment of so-called hybrid smart watches through its ongoing partnership with Fossil, but may have judged it was time to make a bigger commitment as the market is evolving to touchscreen models. The color change feature, for example, certainly makes a lot of sense for a major fashion brand.
Fossil last summer increased its commitment to the smartwatch market, among other things expanding the number of models coming out of its partnerships with luxury and fashion brands — including Emporio Armani, Michael Kors and others. Its smartwatch push coincided with what was expected to be a bountiful second half of 2017 for the smart watch market as a whole, according to research firm Canalys. Other recent reports have suggested 2017 was a turning point in the market.
Fossil sees smartwatches as the key to its future success, but as a watchmaker and brand, it needs this evolution to pan out. How will things play out for other retail and consumer product brands in the smartwatch market? If the market really has reached a positive turning point, this could prove to be a significant new channel for Kate Spade, a company that wobbled financially before being acquired last year by Coach. But, any further hesitation in the smartwatch market may test the willingness of such brands to support the channel.
- TechCrunch Kate Spade gets into the smart watch game