Sony, Asus liven up smartwatch scene

NEW: Sony's Xperia Z3 smartphone and SmartWatch 3.


    Sep 05, 2014

    Sony, Asus liven up smartwatch scene


    SMARTWATCHES and fitness bands have become the new frontier in the battle among companies like Samsung, Sony and, potentially, Apple.

    Companies are finding it tough to persuade people to splurge on such devices, called wearables. But that has not stopped companies from jumping into the market.

    The latest entries were introduced on Wednesday, ahead of the IFA consumer electronics show starting in Berlin today.

    Sony and Asus announced new smartwatches to compete with recently released models from rivals like Samsung and LG. Motorola is expected to enter the fray with its own wearable device soon.

    Sony introduced its third-generation smartwatch, the SmartWatch 3, which runs on a new operating system that Google has designed specifically for wearables. It will be launched globally in autumn.

    Asus also released its first smartwatch, the ZenWatch, and like many of its competitors, it tried to convince an audience in Berlin that these devices would soon become mainstream. There was no launch date listed.

    "Premium luxury should be made for everyone," said Derek Yu, a senior product director at Asus.

    The new models come a week after Samsung and LG announced their latest versions. Samsung's new device includes a SIM card in its latest gadget, called the Gear S, which allows the watch to send and receive messages independently over mobile networks.

    However, there are substantial barriers confronting firms when it comes to wearables.

    A mere 3 per cent of people surveyed recently by research company CCS Insight owned a smartwatch, and roughly a third of them said they did not see the point of wearables.

    "Smartwatches have to add something extra to the experience of having a smartphone," said George Jijiashvili, an analyst at CCS Insight in London. "Until now, they haven't offered anything new."

    But analysts say Apple's entry into smartwatches may jump-start adoption of all wearables, just as the iPhone led to increased innovation in the smartphone market when it was introduced.

    Apple is rumoured to be working on a smartwatch that may include wireless charging and a focus on health monitoring. It could be introduced by the end of the year, but it is not clear when it will be available to consumers.

    "There's still a lot of potential for wearables," said Mr Jijiashvili. "Everyone is looking up to Apple. We need another iPhone moment."