NEW YORK, United States — Intel Corp., which typically discusses the features of its products in nanometers, is going to try to sell a gadget based on something more visible: bling.
Its MICA bracelet — a $495 piece of jewelry — will go on sale in early December at “select” Barneys New York Inc. and Opening Ceremony stores, the chipmaker said. Intel has even limited the product’s functions to messaging, calendar and notifications. Rather than marketing the device as a high-tech toy for nerds, Intel hid the screen to make sure it can stand on its own as an accessory, according to Ayse Ildeniz, an Intel vice president.
Intel is going up against Apple Inc., which is planning to roll out a smartwatch in early 2015. The Apple Watch is also being touted as a fashion accessory, with configurations that range from basic sport designs to flashy metallic bangles. Microsoft Corp., FitBit Inc. and other wearable band makers are aiming for more fitness and health-conscious consumers.
“We’re doing a jewelry piece for a woman; it happens to be smart,” Ildeniz said. “It’s a departure in many different ways from what Intel usually does.”
Intel Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich is targeting wearables as a future market for his company’s chips, as he seeks to parlay the chipmaker’s dominance in computing into new areas. Rather than add to the growing list of smart watches -- none of which has yet won mass market appeal — Santa Clara, California-based Intel is aiming to integrate technology into things that people would wear anyway.
MICA is made of semi-precious gems, snakeskin and gold. Wearers can access text messages, notifications from Google Inc. and Facebook Inc. services and local business recommendations from Yelp Inc. In keeping with its price tag and exclusive image, users will be able to set up VIP contact lists to filter who can reach them via the bracelet.
The device has its own mobile connection, meaning it doesn’t have to be paired with a phone, and comes with two years of free AT&T Inc. data service.
In one respect, however, the device betrays its geek roots: the name is an abbreviation for My Intelligent Communications Accessory.
By Ian King; editors: Pui-Wing Tam, Reed Stevenson, Andrew Pollack.