Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) said it will begin selling its Toq smart watch on Dec. 2--Cyber Monday, the day after the Black Friday holiday shopping bonanza--for $349. Although Qualcomm has made it clear the device is more of a proof of concept than a mass market attack on the smart watch segment (the Toq is far more expensive than other smart watches on the market), the effort by Qualcomm is nonetheless notable as it represents a rare straight-to-consumer business effort from the world's largest maker of mobile silicon.
Qualcomm's Toq will ship with a pair of Bluetooth earphones.
Qualcomm announced its Toq smart watch in September, the same day Samsung unveiled its own Galaxy Gear smart watch. Qualcomm's Toq will connect to Android devices via Bluetooth and includes a number of Qualcomm-specific technologies including the company's Mirasol display technology, which Qualcomm said is always on and always visible and uses ambient light to "enable a crisp and clear viewing experience even in bright sunlight." The gadget will also support Qualcomm's WiPower LE wireless charting technology, and it will ship with a pair of Qualcomm's stereo Bluetooth earphones.
Like most other smart watches, Qualcomm's Toq aims to act like a smartphone sidekick, displaying incoming call and message information. Qualcomm also promised it will "continue adding functionality to Toq through software upgrades," though it didn't provide details.
Qualcomm's primary business is selling chipsets to the world's smartphone makers. However, the company continues to work to expand into a wide range of other opportunities, from augmented reality technologies to mobile healthcare products. The company's smart watch is an effort by Qualcomm to help define and grow a new category of "wearable" computing devices--devices Qualcomm could potentially sell chipsets and components for. Further, smart watches represent another opportunity for Qualcomm's Mirasol screen technology: Qualcomm at one point had worked to sell Mirasol into the e-reader and smartphone market, but has since pulled away from that effort. The company hopes smart watches could be a new segment that would make use of the Mirasol technology.
Of course, Qualcomm isn't the only company interested in wearable computing and smart watches. Samsung, Sony, Pebble and others all currently sell smart watches, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is working to break into the wearable computing segment with its Glass eyeglasses. Moreover, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and other heavyweights are rumored to be developing their own smart watches. Qualcomm ultimately hopes to sell its smart watch chipsets and components to these direct-to-market companies rather than build a business around its Toq brand.
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