Wear OS is floundering. I know a lot of people really love the Google-powered smartwatches they own or are think of buying into the Google wearable ecosystem, but when you look at both sales and reviews of the competition — namely Samsung's Tizen-based watches and Apple's wearables — Wear OS is in the tank.
There is a staggeringly complex set of reasons for all of this. Samsung and Apple may show more attention to their wearables or have a more lucrative realtionship through the retail chain, for example. But I think one major reason is that wearables are great for fitness and Google's platform, Google Fit, isn't.
Google's rumored purchase of Fitbit can change that. And I don't neccessarily mean the hardware. Fitbit designers and engineers know how to integrate wearables and fitness is a way people love and that's the shot in the arm that Google needs.
There is no Google Watch and if there was it still wouldn't be as loved as a Fitbit.
Google does not have a Wear OS halo device. There is nothing available that showcases exactly how Google envisions its wearable operating system should be, how it should operate or even how it should look. We see just that with Android through the Pixel brand and for Chrome with the Pixelbook branding. Instead we see a mix of partner brands promoted at the WearOS website.
That's fine. Especially when some of those brands are already names we recognize that make fashion watches like Fossil and Michael Kors, or even luxury brands like Movado or Tag Heuer. That's a great foundation and a lineup of devices people may want to purchase once they know the products exist.
In 2019 watches are mostly used as fitness devices because we all have really great smartphones that tell time.
There's one place where this isn't true — fitness. And in that world of jogging and cycling and other activities that get you moving and healthy, there are two names that stand out. One of them is Apple and the other is Fitbit. Maybe these two companies do it better than the rest, or maybe it's advertising, or maybe it's just brand recognition. Whatever it is, Google can benefit if Fitbit becomes a Google company, just like it did with Nest around smart home tech.
If Google can take the Fitbit brand and leverage it into a Wear OS device that still does fitness the way people love and can showcase exactly what the company's vision of a wearable is, Wear OS may be able to come off of life support. Maybe.
A bit of Fit
Can this save Wear OS?
The Fitbit 2 is a great wearable with an AMOLED display, FitBit Pay, and outstanding battery life. It just needs better software, and that's something Google can deliver.
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