What it is: Luxury fashion accessory maker, Louis Vuitton, plans to offer a smart watch to compete against the Apple Watch.
Apple products are considered a luxury brand because they’re expensive, but in return for their high price, you get better build quality, better technical support, and a simpler user interface. The way rivals try to compete against Apple is to copy their products but at a lower price, cheaper build quality, less technical support, and a more complicated user interface. Not surprisingly, most of these competitors never come close to achieving the success that Apple has reached.
The latest competitor to the Apple Watch is Louis Vuitton, which hopes to sell a Louis Vuitton’s Tambour Horizon smart watch with a starting price at $2,450. (In comparison, the Apple Watch ranges in price from $269 to $1299.) Strangely, Louis Vuitton’s Tambour Horizon smart watch will rely on Android Wear.
So here’s the dilemma. You can buy an expensive luxury watch running Android, or you can buy a far less expensive smart watch that also runs Android Wear. The only difference is that a Louis Vuitton smartwatch will look nicer and cost more but have largely the exact same features as a typical Android Wear smartwatch.
Will people buy a Louis Vuitton smart watch largely for the brand name and superior material quality? Or will they simply buy an Apple Watch instead? Given the fact that Android Wear smart watches haven’t come close to toppling the Apple Watch, it seems unlikely that the Louis Vuitton smart watch will convince many people to abandon the Apple Watch either.
For the high price of a Louis Vuitton smart watch, you get good material quality, probably less technical support, and an okay user interface. Is that something worth paying for?
Will anyone even recognize a Louis Vuitton smart watch when they see it? More importantly, will anyone care?
Louis Vuitton is trying to compete against the Apple Watch by taking a struggling wearable operating system (Android Wear) and stuffing it inside a luxury smart watch design. Louis Vuitton may sell some smart watches but you can be certain nobody at Apple is worried that they’ll eat into the Apple Watch market.
Right now, few companies can compete against the Apple Watch. Fitbit is superior for its lower price and simpler focus, but that’s like comparing a computer to a pocket calculator. A pocket calculator is easier to use but also more limited, just like a Fitbit is simpler than an Apple Watch but more limited.
Louis Vuitton isn’t trying to compete against the Apple Watch so much as they’re trying to create a smart watch luxury product. The big question is whether anyone will consider Android Wear a luxury item. Most likely, people won’t care about the operating system and just focus on the physical appearance. Whether Android Wear works well or not is largely irrelevant when you want to show off the expensive jewelry wrapped around your wrist.
Watching Louis Vuitton try to sell their smart watch should be interesting. In a few years, you’ll know how successful they were if they continue making smart watches or drop the idea altogether.