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Business

Louis Vuitton to debut smartwatch

Luxury brand embraces tech to appeal to millennials

TOKYO -- Louis Vuitton is releasing its first smartwatch worldwide on Tuesday, hoping to attract young consumers to the French luxury brand.

Customers can choose from a variety of watch faces.

Three models of the Tambour Horizon line of smartwatches will go on sale. Every part of the watch, including case designs and preloaded apps, was developed by Louis Vuitton.

In addition to the time, the touchscreen dial displays email and calendar notifications. The watch can connect to smartphones with Android and Apple operating systems via Bluetooth, and also has a function that searches for nearby museums and tourist spots.

In Japan, the watches will be sold online and at select stores, with prices ranging from 277,000 yen to 337,000 yen ($2,430 to $3,300), excluding tax.

Attracting the millennial generation is critical, says Michael Burke, chairman and CEO of Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, referring to consumers up to their mid-30s, as luxury brands grapple with an aging customer base. Louis Vuitton is also considering internet connectivity for other products, as it works to draw in younger consumers.

The global market boom for smartwatches kicked off with Apple's release of the Apple Watch. Initially, electronics makers like Sony mainly developed such products, but lately luxury watchmakers such as Switzerland's Tag Heuer have entered the business, as they also eye a piece of the pie.

Industries strive to connect

An increasing number of products now boast internet connectivity, as advances in technology help push down development costs. Swedish furniture maker Ikea, for example, has partnered with startups to develop home products capable of connecting to the internet. Ace, a Japanese suitcase manufacturer, offers a model that enables tracking by smartphone as an anti-theft measure.

Competition in this field is set to heat up, with development accelerating as a broader range of industries dive into the connected device business.

(Nikkei)

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