Google’s struggling Wear OS platform could be headed for some big changes with the news that the company has acquired wearable technology and employees from Fossil. The firms didn’t specify what exactly Google it getting from Fossil, but it did cost the Android maker a cool $40 million. Could we finally see some real improvements to Wear OS?
Fossil is being coy about the specific technology included in the deal but does say it’s something new that is not currently represented in wearables. Google became aware of this mysterious technology from its partnership with Fossil. Google decided it wanted the technology, and Google has plenty of cash sitting around.
Similar to the HTC deal, Google isn’t taking Fossil’s whole smartwatch division—it only wanted a piece of it. According to Fossil, it’s just the mysterious aforementioned technology and the engineers working on it. Fossil didn’t say how many workers were part of the deal, but it does have some 200 R&D personnel remaining. Although, it probably doesn’t have all those people on Wear OS projects.
Statements made after the initial announcement make it clear Fossil got the new wearable tech from its $260 million Misfit acquisition in 2015. Google allegedly wanted to make sure all its wearable partners got access to this new smartwatch feature as part of Wear OS. The deal could be finalized later this month, but no one was willing to speculate on when devices based on the unnamed technology would show up.
Google’s Wear OS (formerly known as Android Wear) has struggled to gain traction despite launching a year earlier than Apple’s wearable. Most consumer electronics firms like Asus and Huawei have stepped back from Wear OS, leaving lifestyle companies like Fossil to prop up the platform. LG has also continued making some watches, but its recent efforts have been met with little success.
There has been ample speculation over the years that Google would release its own Wear OS watch alongside the Pixel phones, but the company has refused to even discuss the possibility. This time, Google’s Wear OS VP Stacey Burr stresses that having the Fossil technology in-house is all about strengthening the platform as a whole for all its partners. Indeed, a Google watch might be enough to scare away most of the remaining Wear OS partners when there are already so few customers to go around. If Google ever doesdecide to make a Pixel watch, it could be in a better position to do so after this deal.