Google is finally getting serious about Wear OS.
On Thursday, Fossil Group, the company that’s perhaps the most focused on bringing new Wear OS watches to market, is selling $40 million worth of smartwatch-related intellectual property to Google. The IP is related to a smartwatch technology currently under development by Fossil.
As part of the transaction, a portion of Fossil’s R&D team currently overseeing the technology will also join Google. However, Fossil will still retain over 200 R&D members to focus on developing future smartwatch-related technologies and products.
The transaction is expected to wrap up by the end of January.
This news couldn’t come at a better time for Wear OS fans. Despite new smartwatches launching left and right, many of them don’t offer notable enough improvements for users to upgrade from their older watches. Many new Wear OS watches are also using old hardware, so it will be interesting to see if Fossil’s smartwatch tech will propel the Wear OS ecosystem forward.
There’s no word as to what secretive tech Google is buying from Fossil, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was related to battery tech. Battery life is the biggest pain point among smartwatch users, and only a few companies have managed to find viable solutions. Wear OS devices have suffered from poor battery life since their inception, and it makes sense that Google would want to invest however much money it can to fix that problem.
Notably, Google has not yet released its own Pixel smartwatch, despite the revamped focus on launching its own hardware products in recent years. A Google-made smartwatch is pretty much the only hardware product the company hasn’t released under its Pixel brand, and that may have something to do with the lack of an X-factor. It wouldn’t make much sense for the company to launch its own watch that simply blends in with all other Wear OS devices. Perhaps this new Fossil technology could give Wear OS what it needs.
Stacey Burr, Vice President of Product Management for Wear OS, told Wareable:
We saw some technology that they were developing that we thought could be brought out in a more expansive way if Google had that technology, and was not only able to continue to use it with Fossil but bring it to other partners in the ecosystem. It’s about bringing great features to the widest numbers of on-the-go consumers.
Greg McKelvey, EVP and chief strategy and digital officer at Fossil Group, also told the publication that Fossil plans to launch multiple devices across its brands based on the new technology.