Google’s new wearables are set to launch in early 2017

Google will launch two new smartwatches in early 2017. The wearables will be the first to launch with the new Android Wear 2.0 platform, Jeff Chang, p...

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Google will launch two new smartwatches in early 2017.

The wearables will be the first to launch with the new Android Wear 2.0 platform, Jeff Chang, product manager of Android Wear at Google, told The Verge. The smartwatches had been long rumored, but this is the first confirmation from the company.

The wearables will be branded by their manufacturer and won’t have Google or Pixel branding. Chang declined to disclose to The Verge which manufacturer the company is using, but he did indicate that the manufacturer has produced Android Wear devices in the past.

Most existing Android Wear watches will get the Android Wear 2.0 update following the launch of the new devices. The platform will include standalone apps that don’t require a phone, Android Pay support and support for the Google’s voice-controlled Assistant. Google will send out its final developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 in January, per the report.

Will the smartwatch sector be a good fit for Google? Consumers haven’t taken to wrist wearables as easily as they did to smartphones, leading to a bit of turmoil in the sector. A report out from eMarketer earlier this week said wearables like Apple Watch and Fitbit were expected to grow more than 60 percent year-over-year from 2015 to 2016, but the firm is now cutting that estimate down to just 25 percent growth this year.

“Before Apple launched its Watch, fitness trackers dominated the wearables space, and consumer surveys consistently found that tracking health and fitness was the main reason people were interested in wearables,” eMarketer analyst Cathy Boyle said in the report. “They also reported high price-sensitivity. Without a clear use case for smart watches — which have more features than fitness trackers, but significant overlap with smartphone functionality — the more sophisticated, expensive devices have not caught on as quickly as expected.”

Fitbit recently acquired smartwatch startup Pebble, which has struggled due to a lack of venture funding. In March, Pebble laid off 40 employees, about 25 percent of its total staff.

Fitbit has seen its own share of ups and downs. The San Francisco-based company had a successful IPO in June 2015, closing at $32.50 per share. Since then, the stock has tumbled and is now trading at less than $8 per share. Increased competition in the wearable space, in addition to a lack of consumer interest, has been blamed for the drop.

Even Apple is struggling. Researchers at IDC recently released a report that found Apple sold 1.1 million watches in the third quarter, down 71 percent from the same quarter a year ago. That puts it in fourth place among the world’s wearable tech providers with just 4.9 percent of the market, compared to Fitbit’s 23 percent market share.

Source: Google’s new wearables are set to launch in early 2017 – Chicago Business Journal

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