Wearables Week in Review

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Week In Review

Pixel Watch: the rumor that just won’t die

There are fresh rumors that Google is (still?) working on a Pixel Watch. The latest hints comes with images (courtesy of renowned tech leaker Jon Prosser) as well as a report from Business Insider that suggests a release date in Q2 2022. Based on the images, the device looks sleek (and bezel-less) which frankly suggests limited functionality if the images proof real (smaller battery, no cellular connectivity?).  

The NPD Take:

  • Let’s say, for a moment, that the Pixel Watch is real and will indeed launch in 2022. Many in the analyst community see this as a “world-ending” event for many of the smaller smartwatch vendors. We disagree. Fitbit (owned by Google) has failed to transition its customer based from trackers to smart watches, with many moving over to Apple or Samsung. Further, consider the smartphone market, where Google’s Pixel has failed to make a significant impact to date, as a close parallel.
  • Having said that, Google needs to do something to help the Wear OS focused market, or continue to risk seeing customers slowly migrate to Apple. Or, of course, embrace Meta’s rumored watch when/if it launches next year.

Samsung’s rollable screen?

The second rumor of the week suggests that Samsung is developing a smartwatch with a rollable screen. The patent was published last week and describes a watch with semicircular touchscreen displays that split to create a larger display… with a camera sitting in-between them. Of course, it’s a long journey from a patent to an actual product, but the patent demonstrates that Samsung is very focused on its smartwatch development future.

The NPD Take:

  • Are cameras going to make a comeback on smartwatches? Meta’s rumored watch is expected to include a camera too so this could be a sign of things to come. While a camera is often seen as an odd inclusion on a watch, consider a world that is less reliant on smartphones, with more functionality on the watch (i.e., a standalone device with 5G). In that environment, a camera makes perfect sense for video chats.
  • Several watch manufacturers have toyed with larger screened devices, such as devices with screens that wrap around the wrist. The idea of a rollable screen is a far neater solution, allowing for a small device when the larger screen is not needed.
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