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Swatch takes on Apple, Google

Technology

Zurich - Swatch Group said it’s developing an alternative to the iOS and Android operating systems for smartwatches as Switzerland’s largest maker of timepieces vies with Silicon Valley for control of consumers’ wrists.

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FILE PHOTO: Watches of Swiss watchmaker Swatch are displayed in Zurich

The first product using the Swiss-made system will be a Tissot smartwatch to be introduced at the end of 2018, Swatch CEO Nick Hayek said in an interview Thursday. The technology will also be usable in other small household products, he added.

Switzerland’s four-century-old watch industry has been adjusting to new competition since Apple Inc. entered its territory with the Apple Watch in 2015. Lower-end brands have been the most affected, and Hayek, who first said he was sceptical about smartwatches, has been adding new electronic functions into Swatch’s own less expensive brands such as Tissot and its namesake timepieces. This month, Swatch said it developed the world’s smallest Bluetooth chip for use in watches and small objects.

Read also: Luxury contagion hits Swatch

“There’s a possibility for wearables to develop as a consumer product, but you have to miniaturize and have an independent operating system,” Hayek said, speaking in Biel, Switzerland, at the headquarters of Omega, another of the 18 brands that Swatch produces.

Swatch is willing to supply third parties with the operating system, which has been developed with the Swiss Centre for Electronics and Microtechnology, a university specialized in miniaturization, Hayek said. The company has received about 100 requests for more information, with half coming from smaller Silicon Valley companies that don’t want to be dependent on Android and iOS, he added.

Separately, Swatch forecast a rebound in US and European markets as it published its annual report.

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