Remember when Swatch Group CEO Nick Hayek said smartwatches would never catch on? He’s changed his tune, and now tells Bloomberg that he’ll be selling a smartwatch, complete with an NFC chip for payments, within the next three months.
Why the turnaround? Because Hayek did not get to be the boss of the world’s biggest watch company by being stupid. It’s clear that people want smartwatches of one sort or another, and Swatch has the technical and manufacturing chops to do interesting things on the comparative cheap. Just as Swatch rescued the Swiss watch industry from the Japanese, Hayek didn’t want to lose it to the Californians.
There’s not much expectation that Swatch’s smartwatches are going to go head to head with the Apple Watch; there’s no indication that Swatch has that kind of software expertise. But a stylish and cheap notification band with a payment system behind it could be just enough. In other words, Pebble’s pivot may come just in the nick of time.