Date
23 May 2017
Warren Buffett appears to be getting comfortable with the tech sector, given his increasing stakes in leading firms in the industry and a foray into 'smart' jewelry products. Photo: Reuters
Warren Buffett appears to be getting comfortable with the tech sector, given his increasing stakes in leading firms in the industry and a foray into 'smart' jewelry products. Photo: Reuters

Why Warren Buffett is a believer in wearables

Billionaire Warren Buffett has always been cautious about putting money in tech companies. The US tycoon didn’t make any major investment in tech stocks until six years ago when he bought into IBM, followed by investments in Apple last year.

Now, the 87-year-old is warming up to wearables.

Richline Group, a jewelry firm under Berkshire Hathaway Inc., will be launching an Ela (Elegant Lifestyle Accessories) series in April.

Richline has been in the wearables game for years and has acquired several smart-tech brands, including Viawear and the Ungaro.

“Jewelry is a centuries-old business that isn’t going anywhere, so it’s a safe bet,” Buffett told CNBC in an emailed statement. “With the addition of technology, we’re simply updating something everyone knows and loves to better fit our modern age.”

“We’ve designed Ela to be jewelry first. As a jewelry company, we understand jewelry retailers and consumers, what they want to carry and buy,” said Richline Group product and innovation manager Cliff Ulrich.

“Ela allows you to save memories in your jewelry, like a modern day locket,” he added.

French fashion label Emanuel Ungaro, which was acquired by Richline in 2015, has already released a “couple necklace” for partners. If a woman, for instance, presses a button on her necklace to express love, her partner will feel the buzz through bluetooth connection.

In Ela case, the line will look like fashion jewelry, rather than plastic electronic gadgets.

The first release in April will be four Ela tracker bracelets, which use low-energy bluetooth to connect to smartphone devices. The bracelet tracks users’ steps and syncs with the Apple Health app and Google Fit.

Wearers can create alerts—which will set the round device in the bracelet’s center glowing and vibrating. Users can also assign different light colors for certain alerts. It will be priced between US$195 and US$295. The products will be another option for Valentine’s gifts next year.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb. 15

Translation by Julie Zhu

– Contact us at [email protected]

RC

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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