China’s ecommerce giant Alibaba this week unveiled Pay Watch, a payments-focused smartwatch that it plans to crowdfund on its online shopping website Taobao (think eBay or Amazon) starting October 15.
Update: Alibaba wished to clarify to VentureBeat that this smartwatch is produced in partnership with FiiSmart, and “not developed by Alibaba Group” per se. (Get the full update at the end of this article.)
Prices will range up to about $160 for the YunOS-powered device that supports mobile payments through Alibaba’s Alipay platform. The main way it’s expected to handle this is by generating on-demand QR codes that retailers can scan at checkout.
While there is still no official English-language announcement on the smartwatch, from what we can tell the specs include a 1.63-inch AMOLED display (320×320 resolution), dual-core CPU with 4GB of storage, Bluetooth, a built-in 300mAh battery (36 hours regular use, with power-saving mode that claims to offer up to 119 hours), magnetic charging, and compatibility with Android and iOS.
Beyond that and the basic Alipay functions, users will also be able to buy things like movie tickets through Taobao, check the weather, and receive push notifications from their smartphone (calls, SMS, email, WeChat, etc.).
There are also some health features being advertised, including heart-rate monitoring, motion detection, and a built-in pedometer.
On first impression, it seems likely that Alibaba will be selling this smartwatch at close to cost (if not at a loss) as a way to get more consumers plugging into its ecommerce platforms and attaching credit cards to Alipay accounts.
I wouldn’t expect the Pay Watch to be made available anywhere outside China, and we still don’t have exact dates for shipping.
We’ve reached out to Alibaba for more information, but for now you can check some of the official press renders below (keep scrolling, there’s quite a few).
Full update: Alibaba sent us the following statement by email:
Designed and manufactured by Shenzhen-based company FiiSmart, the watch operates on the new “YunOS for Wear” (an operating system) and supports Alipay payment, among many other functions. We are happy to partner with innovative companies l who are devoted to adopting the latest technology to bring ultimate convenience to consumers.