Google has consistently had troubles to establish a firm foothold in the smartwatch market, unlike a few of its fellow competitors. While some blame it on the absence of truly upgraded chips from Qualcomm, it’s clear that Google itself has been a little sluggish. But the search engine giant is hoping to change that this year and it’s doing so by acquiring a set of smartwatch assets from one of its most active WearOS hardware partners, Fossil.
Google today announced that it is buying a “portion” of Fossil’s smartwatch technology and talent. The deal has been set to about a sum of $40 million which will hardly have any impact on Google’s numbers and includes Fossil handing over a secret technology it’s been working on along with the R&D team directly responsible for it.
The agreement will essentially allow Google to mend its struggling smartwatch business and set up a proper hardware division for its WearOS platform. As of now, it’s not yet revealed specifically what Google has bought. As per a report by Wareable, the technology is a “new product innovation that’s not yet hit the market.” While details are scant, the “innovation” could be what Fossil was working on after purchasing wearable maker Misfit for $260 million back in 2015.
By integrating it natively in WearOS, Google reportedly plans to make the (possibly health-focused) tech open to all the vendors. In addition, it could also act as a stepping stone for the company’s long-rumored Pixel Watch. If the plot sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Google took a similar step for its Pixel line of phones by acquiring a part of HTC’s hardware team. Although that one was on an entirely different scale with a price of $1.1 Billion.
Whatever the end result may be, the one thing that’s clear is that 2019 could turn out to be a make or break year for WearOS. Unless Qualcomm and Google have a new wearable chipset up their sleeve, it’s certainly a little difficult to imagine WearOS thrive irrespective of how advanced the secret technology is.
Speaking on the announcement, Stacey Burr, the president of product management for Google’s WearOS platform, said: “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. 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.”