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March 25, 2019
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smartwatch

Looking for a $2,500 smartwatch? Garmin’s got ‘em

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Somewhere out there, there’s a person willing to pay $2,500 for a smartwatch. Surprisingly, that individual has several high end options to choose from. And while the Garmin name doesn’t exactly scream luxury, the company does know how to build a solid smartwatch — and these ones look pretty decent to boot.

Maybe not $2,500 decent, but decent nonetheless.

The Marq GPS line puts the company in relatively rare air, with devices starting at $1,500. Asking people to spend luxury watch prices on a smartwatch is a pretty heavy lift, of course. At well over three times the cost of an Apple Watch, you’re going to want the thing to last for…well, a long time.

To make things even nichier, each watch is targeted at a very specific audience, including athletes, hikers, boating enthusiasts, pilots and race car drivers (that last one is the $2,500, mind). They all offer a specific design and feature set tailored to those categories, including faces that show off wind speed and a built-in altimeter.

Here’s Garmin on why the things are so damn expensive,

Each watch is built with titanium, which is lightweight, yet incredibly strong for high performance in all activities, and are constructed with sapphire crystal formed under extreme heat and pressure to create an extremely durable lens that’s over twice as hard as glass.

Of course, Garmin’s always been a bit of an underdog in the smartwatch wars, courtesy of devices targeted specifically at outdoors folks and athletes, so a targeted audience has always been the company’s M.O. Though even for them, $1,500 and up is almost certainly pushing it. The watches will be available later in Q2. 

News Source = techcrunch.com

Fitbit announces a $160 stripped-down version of the Versa smartwatch

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Last year’s Versa was at the center of Fitbit’s reversing fortunes. After two years in the wilderness, the smartwatch helped turn the tide for the flailing company. Last quarter marked the first time in two years the company saw a year-over-year increase in devices shipped.

After the lackluster launch of the Ionic, the Versa delivered, with a sleeker and smaller form factor, a more mature ecosystem and, perhaps most importantly of all, a lower price point. That device launched at $200 — $100 cheaper than the Ionic. The company is further leveraging those lessons learned for the Versa Lite Edition. It’s pretty much what it sounds like: a stripped-down version of the Versa, which arrives at $160.

The arrival of the original Versa helped Fitbit grow its smartwatch business 442 percent, year-over-year, CEO James Park told TechCrunch in a recent interview. The category now comprises 44 percent of the company’s business and has helped catapult Fitbit to the No. 2 smartwatch spot in the U.S. behind you-know-who.

“There are more and more people getting interested in the smartwatch category, but there are certain barriers to them jumping in: ease of use, simplicity and pricing,” Park said. 

A further price drop could help push Fitbit’s gains even more among those who have been eyeing the category but don’t want to pay the full $200. Positioned against other top smartwatch models, the price point is certainly appealing. Of course, it does come with some compromises.

The Lite drops a number of features for the sake of lowering the product’s price point. It’s a combination of some core smartwatch capabilities and some Fitbit excess. The list includes floors climbed, swim laps, music, Fitbit’s on-screen workouts, additional band styles and Fitbit Pay.

If none of those sounds particularly essential to your smartwatch needs, then the Versa might be the device for you. The product looks nearly identical to its predecessor in both size and shape, though the company has pared the original Versa’s three buttons down to one.The relative success of the device will provide an interesting proving ground for Fitbit’s smartwatch sales — and help determine precisely what people are looking for in the category.

The Versa was a solid device — and certainly an improvement over the Ionic, in spite of dropping a handful of features. Pre-orders open today. They’ll be available from retailers including Amazon, Best Buy, Kohl’s, Target and Walmart later this month.

The Versa and Ionic, in the meantime, aren’t going anywhere any time soon. “We feel that there’s a distinct need for a higher-end ASP (average selling price),” Park explains. “We do consider that an important part of our portfolio.”

News Source = techcrunch.com

IDC: Apple led wearables market in 2018, with 46.2M of the total 172.2M devices shipped

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Apple devices continue to lead the wearables market, according to a new report from IDC out today, which claimed the Cupertino-based company shipped a total of 46.2 million wearables for the year. The firm also reported the worldwide market for wearable devices grew 31.4 percent during the fourth quarter of 2018, to reach 59.3 million units shipped, while shipments for the year grew 27.5 percent for a total of 172.2 million. Apple retained its No. 1 position in wearables again in Q4, with 16.2 million wearables shipped — 10.4 million of which were Apple Watches, the report said.

Smartwatches together grew 54.3 percent in 2018, and accounted for 29.8 percent of all wearables. Apple Watches accounted for nearly half that market, the report said.

IDC forecasts that Apple’s growth in wearables will continue, thanks to a strong start for the newer Apple Watch Series 4.

In addition, IDC noted it recently revised its “ear-worn” category of wearables to include wireless headphones that allow users to call upon a smart assistant through either a touch of a button or hot-word detection. That means devices like Apple’s AirPods, Google’s Pixel Buds, Bose’s QC35II and others are now being counted among the wearables category.

Much of the growth in wearables was also attributed to the increasing number of these sorts of ear-worn devices, like Apple AirPods.

In Q4, for example, ear-worn devices grew 66.4 percent from the year-ago quarter to capture at 21.9 percent market share.

The firm said the growth was due to a combination of factors, including the increasing popularity of smart assistants and the ditching of the smartphone’s headphone jack, led by Apple.

“The market for ear-worn wearables has grown substantially this past year and we expect this to continue in the years to come,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement. “It is the next battleground for companies as these types of headphones become a necessity for many given the exclusion of headphone jacks from modern devices. Add to that the rise of smart assistants and in-ear biometrics and companies have the perfect formula to sell consumers on a device that’s complimentary to the device ecosystem that lives on their wrist and in their pocket,” he added.

Meanwhile, smartwatches grew 55.2 percent to capture a 34.3 percent share. Wristbands reached a 30 percent market share, thanks to launches from Xiaomi, Huawei and Fitbit.

Xiaomi was in second place for the quarter, behind Apple, with a 12.6 percent market share compared with Apple’s 27.4 percent. The company remains strong in its home country of China, but sales of its Mi Band 3 have also done well. Of note, its Mi Band 3 accounted for more than 30 percent of all wristbands shipped during Q4.

Behind Xiaomi was Huawei, which grew by a sizable 248.5 percent thanks to Huawei and Honor phones being bundled with wearables, along with other product launches. Fitbit and Samsung rounded out the top 5, with the former returning to growth thanks to the Charge 3 and promotions around its Versa, and the latter also by bundling wearables with its smartphones.

Samsung shipped 4 million wearables in Q4, compared with Apple’s 16.2 million.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Samsung is preparing to launch a sports smartwatch and AirPods-like earbuds

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Samsung’s newest product launch happens next week, but already the Korean tech giant has revealed its entire upcoming range of wearable devices that will seemingly be unveiled alongside the Galaxy S10.

That’s because the company’s Galaxy Wearable’s app was uploaded today with support for a range of unreleased products which include wireless earbuds, a sports-focused smartwatch, and a new fitness band.

First reported by The Verge — and originally noticed by @SamCentralTech on Twitter — the new wearables include a Galaxy Sport smartwatch, fitness bands Galaxy Fit and Galaxy Fit e, Galaxy Buds, Samsung’s take on Apple’s AirPods. The devices have all been teased in various leaks in recent weeks but this confirmation from the Samsung app, deliberate or inadvertent, appears to all but confirm their impending arrival.

That said, we really can’t tell too much about the respective devices based on the app, which just shows basic renders of each device.

Still, that might just be enough of a tease to general a little more interest in what promises to be Samsung’s biggest consumer launch event of the year.

The Samsung unveiling comes days before Mobile World Congress, the mobile industry’s biggest event of the year, kicks off — so expect to see new product launches coming thick and fast over the coming weeks.

News Source = techcrunch.com

The Matrix PowerWatch 2 is a vampiric timepiece that sucks your life-force

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When Matrix came out with its first PowerWatch the watch world was enamored. The self-powered smart watch would suck energy from your skin by using the temperature differential between your skin and the air, allowing it to run indefinitely without charging. Now the team has added a solar feature to their latest PowerWatch 2 which lets the watch both steal energy from your soul and the sol.

The watch is on Indiegogo now for $199 and it’s already raised $445,000. It will ship in March.

The new watch features a color LCD screen, GPS, heart-rate monitor, as well as steps, cadence, and sleep sensors. It is compatible with Apple HealthKit and Google Fit.

“While PowerWatch 2 dramatically increases the amount of energy available to the charge-free wearable, MATRIX’s materials science and hardware engineers were able to also further miniaturize both the thermoelectric (TEG) and solar cell processes, decreasing PowerWatch 2’s weight and size even more, while maintaining the rugged aluminum build,” said CTO Douglas Tham.

We saw the watch at CES this year and it looks really nice. It’s not too smart – it’s more a health band than a smart watch – but the self-charging features are unique in the space. Given that it also feeds parasitically on your body heat like a strange, aluminum tick it’s a fascinating change in the way we think about our wearables.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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