Apple is a brand. Fossil is a brand. Apple’s smartwatch is a far stronger brand, eating up the vast majority of the smartwatch market. But Fossil has a secret weapon. Licensing. Enter the Puma smartwatch, a Fossil smartwatch that says Puma right on it. And? And . . .
The Puma smartwatch has the same hardware as Fossil’s new Gen 5 smartwatch. For all intents and purposes, it’s the same watch, doing the same Google OS Wear things as a Fossil 5: Google Fit, Google Pay, voice recognition for Hey Google, pre-loaded Spotify app., etc.
What’s different about Puma smartwatch: bright colors, a Puma logo on the buckle and custom Puma faces. Leaping feline? Herzogenaurach uber alles? We’ll find out in November. We’re breathless with anticipation.
Puma isn’t the only brand hitching its wagon to Fossil’s Chinese smartwatch production. Fossil has licensing agreements with Burberry, DKNY, Columbia Sportswear, Diesel, Frank Gehry, Karl Lagerfeld, Callaway Golf, Davis Cup, Marc Jacobs and Adidas (Puma’s deadly rival).
Michael Kors has unleashed a line of 20 bling AF Fossil-sourced smartwatches, for consumers who want to be seen wearing a piece of jewelry, rather than a display screen. ‘MK?
Just in case you thought the Armani brand hasn’t gone far enough down and mass market, the once exclusively high-end design house sells a selection of more demure Fossilized smartwatches for $345.
It’s all the same you-know-what in a different wrapper. That said, why not? The death of brick-and-mortar stores leaves Fossil with less and less real estate in which it can confront punters with its smartwatches. Getting a bigger piece of the remaining retail biz via someone else’s brand has minimal risk, maximum reward.
And here’s the kicker: Texas-based Fossil is upping mechanical and quartz watch production in Switzerland. At least it was three years ago. Smartwatch sales are eating the maarket share of sub-$500 watches like crazy; sales are growing at more than 20% per year. Fossil got its bets covered. They’re a long, long way from going extinct.