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Swatch to take on Apple Watch & Android Wear with custom OS

The Swatch Group will be paving its own road into the smartwatch space with a custom operating system, the company's CEO said on Thursday, with the OS going up against mature software from incumbents Apple Watch and Google's Android Wear platform.




Competitors have had problems with power consumption and privacy, Nick Hayek suggested to Reuters. Swatch — which owns brands like Tissot and Omega — is also collaborating with the Swiss research institute CSEM on a new internet-of-things ecosystem it plans to launch towards the end of 2018.

Hayek said that while he doesn't want Swatch to become "the industry standard for smartwatches," since it would be dangerous if people depended on one or two platforms, he thinks the company can offer something with better data privacy and lower energy use.

Battery life is one of the biggest problems with smartwatches. The Apple Watch, for instance, won't last more than a day on a single charge, and particularly heavy use may force someone to top up earlier.

Swatch has allegedly had a number of requests from U.S. startups wanting flexible open-source options, which the new platform will cater to in addition to Swatch's own products. That could result in yet more Watch competitors, in effect establishing a true alternative to Android Wear for companies that don't have their own OS.

The Swiss firm does face a significant uphill battle. Most estimates peg Apple as the world's top smartwatch vendor, easily eclipsing the likes of Garmin and Samsung, even if Fitbit and Xiaomi command in terms of the overall wearables market.