com1-watch

When the Com 1 was first announced on Indiegogo, we admitted that the idea of a crowdsourced Android Wear watch was pretty intriguing. While the device didn’t look that impressive, it promised big when it came to specs and had us wondering if they could even pull off what they were claiming. Now it looks like we’ll never know for sure, as the project has been pulled down due to a rights infringement complaint by Google.

The Com team has apologized and started issuing refunds, though they promise they have a backup plan for those that want to stick with the startup. No word on exactly what this plan is, other than perhaps to use another OS aside from Android Wear. Back to the matter on hand, why did Google pull down the project in the first place? There’s actually at least a couple of possibilities.

First, let us remember that while Android itself is open-source, the apps and services it adds on top are not. The same goes for Android Wear. The simple answer here is that Google pulled down the project because the Com 1 promised Android Wear support and utilized the AW UI images and brand without first arranging some kind of deal with Google.

Google appears to want to run the show completely, and isn’t letting just anyone mess with the Android Wear brand.

What is interesting however, is that Google has been much more forgiving about these kinds of “unauthorized” projects in the past, at least when it came to Android and Google services. There have been number of Kickstarter and Indiegogo Android-based device projects that have shown Google Play icons in their announcement materials or even promised full support without first getting approval or certification from Google. To our knowledge, none of these projects have ever been pulled down.

So this leads us to yet another (arguably more likely) reason why Google took action and shut down a relatively small Indiegogo campaign: It wants to run the show and isn’t letting just anyone mess with the Android Wear brand. A lot of companies are aiming their sights at the wearable market (including Apple) and that means plenty of competition, so Google needs to play its cards right — and close to the vest. This may mean Google wants to skillfully decide what OEMs are worthy of representing the platform, and which aren’t. At least until things take off.

Is this a bad thing? Personally, I don’t think so. Having a uniform and highly control experience on a phone? Not my cup of tea. On a watch, where it is mostly a notification hub and a portal for getting quick info? It makes a lot more sense. What do you think? If Google shut down the project solely because it doesn’t want unauthorized, smaller players creating their own cheap AW watches — were they right to do so or not?

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