In 2012, Kodak, the 131-year-old company that dominated the photography industry for decades, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The giant became battered by the wave of film-less digital cameras, and now the devices responsible for the demise of the former giant, seem headed toward the same fate thanks to the popularity of better camera phones. This cyclical trend that took down Kodak seems to be gaining traction in the watch industry, and it appears like Olio, the newest competitor in this saturated market, could lead to the demise of giants like Swatch, Casio and Citizen.
Olio, unlike the Apple Watch or Android Wear entries, promises something its competitors haven’t: out-of-the-box connectivity with smart-home devices. Sure, both Apple and Android have promised that connectivity with smart-home devices (and smartphone apps) will occur in the near future, Olio promises its devices will work with everything from thermostats, garage doors, lights and even stereo speakers. Tack on its ability to filter notifications and to integrate with traditional smartphone apps, Olio provides high hopes. If Olio delivers on its promise of out-of-the-box connectivity with smart-home devices and everyday apps, traditional timepieces, which function purely for style and timekeeping, will die a slow death. Even if Olio fails to live up to seamless connectivity with smart-home devices and apps, its missteps will surely influence Apple and Android on how not to integrate with smart-home devices and apps.
Olio aims to connect with popular thermostats like Nest.More importantly, if Olio manages to succeed alongside smart-home devices, it will continue to batter timepiece makers. Why? Because like all technology, smartwatches will only get cheaper, smarter and more necessary to wear and to use. And when watches can control more aspects of a home, when they become more essential to everyday smartphone apps, and even when apps and smartwatches can control more than just appliances, like the cars people drive, it will make owning revered timepieces like Citizen or Swatch unnecessary and even archaic. The only hope for giants like Citizen or Swatch is maintaining their importance, lest they're prepared to end up like Kodak.