Even more signs of a Pixel-series smartwatch being in the works emerged online this week as Google started looking for industry veterans experienced in the field of wearables.
According to several newly spotted job listings, the company is seeking a Hardware Engineering Vice President and Consumer Hardware Design Manager, both of whom would be assigned to work on wearables.
The postings are quite clear in regards to the importance of Google’s wearable projects as they directly state the two future hires in question are meant to be on close working terms with the hardware unit’s senior leadership as they come up with ways to create new and improve existing products. Not only is this a strong indication that some kind of Wear OS gadgets are already in the works but also suggests Google isn’t just looking to test the waters with a single watch but is planning its wearable push on a much broader scale.
To smartwatch or not to smartwatch?
The development is in line with last year’s rumors about a Pixel-branded lineup of smartwatches being in development as Alphabet’s subsidiary was supposedly preparing no fewer than three distinct models. The devices were reportedly meant to be released by the end of 2018 and while that didn’t happen for unknown reasons, a Google smartwatch is still something many industry watchers expect will hit the store shelves in the near future.
Last month, Google paid tens of millions of dollars for wearable technology created by American electronics maker and fashion company Fossil. The surprise deal was announced without many details, with the duo only confirming the transaction also saw some Fossil engineers in charge of supporting the tech in question move to Google. The mysterious tech may not be hardware-dependent and consequently doesn’t necessarily imply a Pixel smartwatch being in the works, though that’s precisely the conclusion reached by many analysts in response to the deal’s announcement.
Early last year, Google rebranded Android Wear into Wear OS in order to make the ecosystem more inclusive, i.e. stop communicating suggestions that its solution may not work with iOS-powered iPhones. Little happened on the smartwatch front in the meantime and Apple continues to dominate the segment to this date. Qualcomm did come up with a newer smartwatch chip in the form of the Snapdragon Wear 3100 late last year but not many manufacturers embraced the silicon so far.
Besides yet another layer of portfolio diversification, a first-party smartwatch could make sense for Google by fulfilling a role similar to that of the now-discontinued Nexus range of Android smartphones, i.e. serve as a reference point for manufacturers interested in leveraging the firm’s software in order to create a premium (wearable) user experience.
Moving beyond software
The Pixel series demonstrated that Google’s hardware and advertising dominance doesn’t necessarily translate into optimal hardware sales; in terms of wearables, the company’s only product to date comes in the form of the Pixel Buds, wireless headphones which received a lukewarm response from consumers and critics. Besides smartwatches, Google may also dabble into mid-range Android smartphones later this year as recent rumors suggested the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 XL Lite are in the works.
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