The global smartwatch market is expected to boom in the near future, and Apple is at the top of it. Other competitors are closely following with Samsung being the second best and Chinese manufacturers like Huawei and Xiaomi claiming the affordable smartwatch niche for themselves. What came as a surprise is Facebook’s decision to build its own smartwatch expected to release next year.
All these developments have put immense pressure on Google to release its own smartwatch. The company’s major share of revenue comes from the search engine business, but it has experimented with hardware development in the past. The Pixel phone series, Nest devices, and Chromebooks rattled traditional manufacturers like Apple and Samsung if not shrinking their market shares.
Though it seems worthy to take the plunge, Google is not in a hurry. The rumors about it releasing a watch as an accessory for its Pixel phones have been around for years, and the company at times came forward to quiet them. However, as the tech giant’s quest for data is insatiable and smartwatches these days are a goldmine of useful consumer data, the rumors refuse to disappear.
Below is a rundown on almost all the rumors that have surfaced on and off since 2018.
On May 10, 2018, Evan Blass, a well-known American tech journalist, shared information from his trusted source on Twitter regarding Google releasing a Pixel Watch alongside the Pixel 3 and 3 XL. That didn’t materialize, with Google confirming there won’t be a Pixel watch for 2018. The language couldn’t have been more ambiguous.
Later in 2019, Business Insider broke a story that took the internet by storm. It was alleged that a Google Pixel Watch was set to release in 2016 right when the first Pixel phone was unveiled, but Google’s hardware chief at that time, Rick Osterloh, killed the product at the last minute claiming it was not the right fit for the premium phone.
Things were quiet until August of 2020 when ETNews breathed a new life into fans’ dying hope. The Korean news website alleged that Samsung obtained an order from Google to manufacture a sensor capable of detecting body movements.
Except for an official confirmation in 2018, Google’s response to the question of building an in-house smartwatch has largely been elusive. Fueling the rumor mill is a number of patents and acquisitions in the wearable space.
Google is unlikely to unveil a Pixel watch anytime soon for a couple of reasons. The following facts make us believe so:
- Wear OS, previously known as ‘Android Wear’, has been around for years. The software is being kept alive by an American fashion-focused company, Fossil Group, and a major Chinese player, Mobvoi.
As all major brands like Samsung, LG, Motorola, Huawei, Asus, and Sony have abandoned it, the platform is decaying and Google is to blame here. If the tech giant were to design its flagship Pixel watch, Wear OS needs to be overhauled first to catch up with Apple’s Watch OS and Samsung’s Tizen. The last major update was in 2018.
- Just at the start of this year, Google has completed its acquisition of Fitbit, a pioneer in health and fitness wearables. With that, it has little motivation to reinvent the wheel for its own Pixel Smartwatch and reinvigorate Wear OS. As it could not afford the ire of Mobvoi, Suunto, and Fossil Group by dumping Wear OS completely, the company might simply let the platform limp along while it focuses on Fitbit.
- Even if Google secured patents in wearable tech, Fitbit is more likely to get benefits out of it. The company has a 2.6 % share in the global smartwatch market and with Google behind its back, it might venture out to get a larger share of the pie for itself. Logic dictates that the funding and technical expertise by Google are likely to go Fitbit’s way.
Ever since Android Wear first rebranded as Wear OS, Google’s fans have been waiting for a Pixel watch. Rumors and leaks remained limited to media hype and not a single time the company officially hinted at developing a flagship watch for its Pixel smartphone series. Google’s neglect brought Wear OS to the brink of extinction, and its acquisition of Fitbit seems to be the last nail in the coffin of a Pixel watch.
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Editor’s Note: Shahryar Amin writes about tech and gadgets, and in particular, smartwatches. He can usually be found working on new projects, blogging, or traveling.
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