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‘Swiss Horologists Are Well Positioned to Out-Apple Apple’

Leonid Bershidsky, writing for Bloomberg:

Swiss watchmakers haven’t really slept through the wearable-tech revolution. They’ve been watching as others did their market research for them. They can afford to wait: Export sales of high-end watches last year totaled 13.8 billion Swiss francs compared with just 3.1 billion francs in 2000. The industry has time to ponder strategies, play with designs and selectively choose from the new functions the Silicon Valley giants develop.

In other words, Swiss horologists are well positioned to out-Apple Apple. They are beginning to introduce new products after their competitors jumped in first. Swiss attention to detail can only be good for the emerging wearable industry, which, even with Apple on board, is still flying by the seat of its pants.

I don’t get this at all. Swiss watch companies may well be positioned to succeed with smartwatches, but it won’t be by “out-Appling Apple”. They have nothing that Apple brings to the table. They have no operating system. They have no developer platform. They have no expertise in semiconductors. If “Apple” is a verb, it means to own the whole widget, to “own the key technologies”, as Tim Cook said just this week. TAG Heuer partnering with Google for an OS and Intel for semiconductor design could not be less Apple-y.

The truth is that no other single company can do what Apple is doing with Apple Watch. (Maybe Microsoft, now that they own Nokia’s handset business? But even that seems like a real stretch.)

Friday, 20 March 2015