Despite failing to achieve the same foothold in the market as its full Android counterpart, it seems as though Google is committed to its Wear OS operating system built for smartwatches. Earlier today, the Search giant announced that it has invested $40 million into Fossil, one of the last remaining Wear OS-based manufacturers.
This isn’t an acquisition, but a $40 million purchase that is set to bring “a portion” of Fossil’s employees into Google’s R&D team, alongside “a smartwatch technology currently under development.” Fossil itself has stated that it will retain over 200 members of staff following the closure of the deal in February.
“Wearables, built for wellness, simplicity, personalization and helpfulness, have the opportunity to improve lives by bringing users the information and insights they need quickly, at a glance,” said Stacey Burr, Vice President of Product Management, Wear OS. “The addition of Fossil Group’s technology and team to Google demonstrates our commitment to the wearables industry by enabling a diverse portfolio of smartwatches and supporting the ever-evolving needs of the vitality-seeking, on-the-go consumer.”
Sadly for those excited, this doesn’t necessarily mean confirmation of the long-rumoured Pixel Watch that never materialised. Judging from Burr’s statement above, it’s entirely possible that Google will continue to license the technology out instead of developing it in-house, but nothing can be confirmed until the company unveils what it has in the pipeline.
Wear OS faces fierce competition in the smartwatch market, Apple and Fitbit leading the charge while previous users of Google’s operating system have since switched to first-party solutions. Smartwatch hardware also saw a dip in interest by 2017, with Samsung opting out of its annual flagship release until last year’s Galaxy Watch rebranding. Google’s latest investment shows confidence that this trend is set to change.
“Fossil Group has experienced significant success in its wearables business by focusing on product design and development informed by our strong understanding of consumers’ needs and style preferences,” Fossil EVP Greg McKelvey said in a statement. “We’ve built and advanced a technology that has the potential to improve upon our existing platform of smartwatches. Together with Google, our innovation partner, we’ll continue to unlock growth in wearables.”
KitGuru Says: Google’s purchase of HTC’s mobile division after the release of the Pixel 2 series shows a want for greater control. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s jumping into the hardware business, expanding the Pixel brand into smartwatch territory, but it certainly isn’t out of question either. Would you like to see a Wear OS-based Pixel Watch?