informa
/
2 MIN READ
Commentary

Casio Entering Smartwatch Fray

Casio plans to make a smartwatch for outdoorsy men that it will release in March 2016.
6 Top Programming Languages For Mobile Development
6 Top Programming Languages For Mobile Development
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Casio isn't sitting idly by as wearables from Apple and Google chew into its market. The company will debut a smarter watch next year that it promises will look good and be comfortable to wear.

Kazuhiro Kashio, Casio's new CEO, told the Wall Street Journal that the watch will be affordable and practical: "We are trying to bring our smartwatch to a level of watch perfection: a device that won&'t break easily, is simple to put on and feels good." It will be priced around $400, which is about what Apple charges for the entry-level Apple Watch.

The company hopes to bring the device to market by March 2016 and it will be released in Casio's home market of Japan, as well as the US. The watch "will be targeted at men for outdoor sports and leisure use both in terms of functions and appearance," according to the Journal.

Casio didn't provide any other details about its smartwatch. For example, Kashio would not say what platform the device will use. Android Wear, from Google, is free for Casio to use if it wants, but Kashio's comments imply it is going in a different direction.

Casio is no newbie to watches.

Fully half the company's annual revenue comes from its watch operations. It's known to produce G-Shock watches, which are generally targeted at outdoor enthusiasts and athletes. The company is confident its smartwatch will be successful. "We will aim to achieve about [$80 million] in smartwatch sales as soon as possible and expand the business from there," said Kashio to the Journal.

Popular its simple watches may be, but Casio is entering an increasingly competitive market for smart wearables.

Apple is believed to have sold 2.8 million Apple Watches since the device debuted April 24. IDC suggests the wearable market will reach 72.1 million devices this year, with 33.1 million smartwatches shipping worldwide. Google's Android platform accounts for a good chunk of the smartwatch market, as does Pebble and its simpler smartwatch.

[Read more about the wearables market.]

Casio will need to worry about apps.

Both WatchOS and Android Wear support an increasing number of third-party apps. Later this year, the Apple Watch will fully support native apps running directly on the wearable. If Casio's smartwatch is going to cost as much as the Apple Watch (and more than most Android Wear devices) it will need to offer a significant advantage in comparison. It's hard to see how it will do that without an associated ecosystem.

Editor's Choice
Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing