The research firm IDC recently showed that the wait of the Apple Watch 2 has driven down smartwatch sales by 32% over the last year. That wait has also seen Apple lose a tremendous amount of market share. Apple may lose even more if Google-backed Mobvoi can get it right in creating a smartwatch to rival the Apple Watch 2.
Mobvoi to offer Apple Watch 2 alternative
Mobvoi Inc., the Chinese AI company that represents Google’s first direct investment in China since it pulled out in 2010 due to arguments with the Chinese ruling party, is set to take on Apple and the Apple Watch 2 come September.
Mobvoi Inc., is in its fourth year of existence and was founded by many of those who worked at Google in China before the company’s decision to leave the massive market that is China. In addition to those employees, Google’s umbrella company, Alphabet, led the most recent financing round last October valuing Mobvoi at $300 million.
While the world and those that sell smartwatches like Samsung, Lenovo, and LG are hopeful that Apple unveils the Apple Watch 2, Mobvoi is just getting on with its business. Mobvoi is set to debut the Ticwatch 2 in September and the Beijing-based company is looking at selling no less than 50,000 units in the United States within a year of being made available.
The Ticwatch 2 takes aim at Apple Watch 2
The Ticwatch 2 will feature voice-activated natural language search, a touch sensitive strip for scrolling and promises to make your life easier for $200. The Ticwatch 2 should allow you to hail an Uber, order a pizza among other features with only your voice at a fraction of the cost of the present Apple Watch and surely the Apple Watch 2.
While the margins on the Ticwatch 2 are anyone’s guess, 50,000 units at $200 would put $100 million in the company’s coffers.
While the Apple Watch 2 does, of course, have the support of Apple, Mobvoi is the official Chinese partner Google’s Android Wear software and that’s nothing to scoff at when it means that voice-search is assisted by Google and will continue to evolve.
Being Google’s partner is certainly advantage, but Mobvoi believes that it’s bringing plenty to the table as well, which makes a tremendous amount of sense when one your founders and CEO, Li Zhifei, helped build Google’s translation software in the past.
“The Google label definitely helped us in marketing, but our core advantages are AI technologies that allow machines to understand natural languages, a self-developed system and self-designed hardware,” says Li.
While Cyber Monday may rule the day in the United States for online retailers like Amazon and countless others, “Singles Day” is the dog’s bollocks in China and sees the world’s largest population flock to the internet for one-day-only deals each year and Mobvoi saw significant sales last year with the original Ticwatch.
Li is hoping that his company’s success last Singles Day shows that people like his product and that its second generation offering will be enough of a hit in the United States to possible warrant a U.S. initial public offering in 2017.
While IDC did show a 32% drop in sales in the smartwatch sector, the same report did offer some rosier news for smartwatch sales with IDC suggesting that while 21.3 million smartwatches were sold in 2015, over 82 million could ship in 2020.
So while the Apple Watch 2 remains highly anticipated, there are a number of other options and I wouldn’t bet against Google’s influence.