Wearables Week in Review

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Week In Review

Pixel 2 delivers

At Google’s Made by Google event last week the company, as expected, announced the Pixel 2 smartwatch. The device promises better health and fitness tracking and a longer battery life. In addition, the watch’s case is made from recycled aluminum, which helps the company check the sustainability box. On the health and fitness side, Google has significantly broadened its capabilities with improved sensors for heart rate and blood oxygenation monitoring, as well as a skin temperature and Continuous ElectroDemeral Activity monitor (both were previously available on Fitbit’s Sense watch. These are used to track stress levels primarily, but a skin temperature sensor is perfectly timed for the flu and Covid season that is now starting. And, of course, there’s some AI under the hood to make use of all these sensors to provide better insight about you and your health. 

Importantly, Google did not just focus on the health and fitness side. Gmail and Google Calendar are both coming to the watch and there will be a far tighter integration with smart home products and services as well as key messaging apps such as WhatsApp.

The Circana Take:

  • Health and fitness features are important, but are really the price of entry into the smartwatch market: every device must have a strong array of fitness features. The integration of Gmail, Calendar and other key apps is, we believe, far more important as the smartwatch market maxes out for health and fitness-focused consumers and needs to expand into a broader array of solutions and services.
  • The AI features are, of course, an absolute “must mention” item. But they are also really important if done correctly. Smartwatch wearers are inundated with data, but unless it is pieced together into a compelling “what this means for you” the data remains fairly useless for many consumers. Indeed, this AI feature could become a key differentiator for tapping into the broader fitness-focused consumer market moving forward. Expect ads focusing on the simplicity of this feature in time for the holiday and New year resolutions.
  • The sustainability check box, thanks to the recycled aluminum casing, is an easy item to dismiss… but one shouldn’t. Consumers are increasingly aware of sustainability issues and this will become far more than a simple throwaway differentiator moving forward.

Apple Watch discounts

Amazon is having a sale on Apple Watch Series 8, which was neatly timed to coincide with Pixel week. Of course, that is somewhat coincidental, and the real driver is likely to be running down excess inventory now that the Series 9 is out. Either way, at $225 for the 41mm model ($175 saving) the offer should see some significant interest from consumers who do not necessarily need the enhanced Series 9.

The Circana Take:

  • The Series 8 checks most of the boxes: it can be used to unlock your other Appel devices, has temperature tracking and more. The only features missing are the “Double Tap” and Raise to Speak (Siri) new features.
  • The timing may be more focused on selling out of the older inventory, but the timing is rather perfect for getting sales initiatives going ahead of the Pixel 2 release.
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