Google Acquires Smartwatch Tech and R&D Personnel from Fossilby Anton Shilov on January 18, 2019 9:00 AM EST
- Posted in
- Android Wear
- Wear OS
Google and watch marker Fossil on Thursday announced that Google would be acquiring smartwatch-related intellectual property and personnel from Fossil. The technology is currently under development and will only be used for future products. The acquisition means that Google now has IP and developers that will help the company more directly address the smartwatch and broader wearables industries..
Under the terms of the deal, Google will pay Fossil $40 million for IP that, unusually enough, has yet to see the light of day. As part of the agreement, some of Fossil’s engineers will also join Google to support the IP transfer, but the watch company will retain more than 200 R&D staff members to continue developing products and technologies.
“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,” said Stacey Burr, vice president of product management of Wear OS by Google.
The technology in question was developed on top of technologies that Fossil received as a result of its 260 million dollar Misfit take over in 2015. Fossil has said that the IP can enable features not supported by smartwatches today, but naturally did not elaborate about the nature of the tech or its ETA.
“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,” said Ms. Burr in an interview with Wareable.
Tech companies tend not to share exclusive technologies with each other unless they know that they need support of the whole industry in order to make these technologies take off, or just need someone to share the heavy lifting on their project. Since Fossil uses Google’s Wear OS for its existing smartwatches, it certainly needed to add support for its upcoming tech to the platform. According to the two companies, as they worked together they concluded that they both could benefit if the IP was made available to other partners in the Wear OS ecosystem.
Fossil’s current plan is to incorporate the tech into its own smartwatches (thus still enjoying some exclusive benefits) while Google expands it across the industry over the longer term. For their part, the IP will enable Google to further improve its Wear OS platform and keep it competitive with Apple’s WatchOS, Samsung's Tizen, and other ecosystems. As an added bonus, Fossil will get $40 million, a significant amount of money for a company that has been either losing money or earning miniscule profits for quite some time now.
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Sources: Fossil Group, Wareable
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Samus - Saturday, January 19, 2019 - linkI agree they are going about it all wrong. Nobody is buying a smartwatch for aesthetics. I'm on my second Apple Watch and there is no denying they are ugly, not jewelry, and not a status symbol. It's just a fitbit on steroids...the vast majority of people buying them buy exclusively for health and fitness. Everything else is secondary and most of it is gimmicky because the phone just offers a superior experience.
I love watches, I have always been a watch person, so you'd think I'd be into the idea of a classic-looking watch that is smart. But I'm not. Because nobody wears a classic looking watch when they run or do any sort of exercise, and if you want to track your health, you aren't going to wear it all the time (perhaps even when you sleep - for sleep tracking) which you need to do in order to get the most effective experience from a health monitor\tracker. The size, weight, ergonomics, durability, comfort and likely battery life are all going to be terrible on any device made by Fossil.
And that's what Google is competing against. It's an uphill battle because they are so behind, and they are clearly clueless about the wearables market. They would have been better off buying Nixon or some boutique watch vendor that actually has experience with a functional niche instead of a style niche. They won't win many customers with just style.
Impulses - Sunday, January 20, 2019 - linkI bought one somewhat for aesthetics... In fact the two I was cross shopping (original Huawei and ZenWatch 3) were on the shortlist because they looked decent and not like a plastic sports watch. /shrug Sure it wasn't the primary consideration, but I rather appreciate that it doesn't remotely like a Fitbit.
Health and fitness aren't my primary usage case either (notifications and Assistant are), tho I recognize that's easily one of the most common ones and Google got pinched at the low end by Fitbit and at the high end by Apple in this regard. They should've been working with partners to make cheaper hardware by now.
Fossil watches tend to be pretty chunky (every model I looked at seemed to be 3-4mm thicker than my ZW3, they may have slimmed down by now) but at least they're committed to Wear, possibly more so than Google themselves...
MarcusMo - Saturday, January 19, 2019 - linkStill held back by the lack of any hardware platform that isn't some sort of cut down mobile derivative built on yesteryears processing node.
Jeff Bellin - Saturday, January 19, 2019 - linkPersonally, I can't understand why this investment even qualifies as news. $40 million to have access to a low-end watch company's not released technology does not amount to a significant investment by Google nor does it evidence a significant commitment to smart watches. Just a press release that everyone published!
twtech - Tuesday, January 22, 2019 - linkMy Garmin Fenix 5x lasts about a month on a charge with GPS and the heartrate monitor turned off. Compare that to what, maybe a day with some of the other watches?
It doesn't have the same feature set as say, an Apple or Samsung watch, but it handles the most important thing I wanted a smartwatch for - being able to get phone notifications with my phone's sound turned off. I get a lot of spam calls during the day, and if I leave the ringer on, I risk having it go off while in work meetings, etc.
So even though it's intended to be a fitness watch, in my opinion the Garmin watches are the best overall watches you can buy right now due to battery life alone, and other watch manufacturers would do well to go the same route.
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