Rumors about a Pixel Watch have abounded for years. Such a device would certainly make sense as Google attempts to prove the viability of its struggling wearable operating system, Wear OS. Seems the company is finally getting serious about the prospect. Today Fossil announced plans to sell its smartwatch IP to the software giant for $40 million.
Sounds like Google will be getting a nice head start here as well. The deal pertains to “a smartwatch technology currently under development” and involves the transfer of a number of Fossil employees to team Google.
“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,” Wear OS VP Stacey Burr said in a statement. “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.”
Like the Pixel before it, a Google -created smartwatch could ultimately serve as a proving group for the company’s open operating system. Wearables in general have struggled recently, and Wear OS is certainly not an exception. A rebrand and redesign haven’t done much to shake loose the cobwebs. In fact, Fossil has remained a rare constant, developing reasonably priced, fitness-focused products sporting the software.
The smartwatch category continues to be dominated by Apple’s offerings, and top competitors Fitbit and Samsung have opted to go different routes, supporting the Pebble-based Fitbit OS and Tizen, respectively. All of this has left Google struggling to differentiate itself and its partners’ offerings. Fossil’s team certainly has the know how to build solid watch hardware, so this could prove a solid match.
Fossil is quick to note, of course, that it’s still got a team of 200 working on R&D, and while the company is no doubt losing some quality employees, it’s still committed to wearable tech.
“Fossil Group has experienced significant success in its wearables business by focusing on product design and development informed by our strong understanding of consumers’ needs and style preferences,” Fossil EVP Greg McKelvey said in a statement. “We’ve built and advanced a technology that has the potential to improve upon our existing platform of smartwatches. Together with Google, our innovation partner, we’ll continue to unlock growth in wearables.”
From the outside, at least, this looks to be a similar (albeit much smaller scale) deal to the one Google struck with HTC to help bolster its smartphone offerings.