It was with a certain amount of inevitability that news landed this morning of Google’s plans for its own, Android-powered smartwatch.
An insider, speaking with the FT, has confirmed that the Big G is hard at work on a timepiece and that, importantly, it’s not a Google X Labs project, like the forthcoming Project Glass.
That means Google wants to make it affordable and mass market, rather than a futuristic niche device.
In the last few days, the smartwatch race has got pretty darn interesting.
Samsung’s Lee Young Hee confirmed that the Korean giant is developing a watch and that the company is ‘working hard to get it ready’.
It’s been known for months now that Apple has a team of around 100 engineers working on its iWatch, with Jony Ive reportedly speaking to Nike about its sportswatch designs.
Google’s entry means we’re now looking at a three-way battle royale for your wrist.
Today’s FT story included one telling detail from its source: that Google’s watch was not related to the Samsung project.
Does that mean that Sammy is going it alone with its smartwatch, ditching Android in favour of its own Tizen OS? It certainly seems that way.
If that is the case, then we’re going to be looking at three hugely different propositions.
One from the maker of the world’s most used mobile OS, another from the world’s biggest mobile manufacturer and, finally, a device from the company with the greatest cachet in the history of consumer tech.
Of course, this throws up its own set of issues. Will Samsung using Tizen mean that developers have yet more hurdles to clear before getting their add-ons onto different devices?
Who will make Google’s smartwatch for it? And can the iWatch really do for the space what the iPhone did for smartphones six years ago?
The latter is perhaps the most interesting question. This time around we’re looking at three tech companies on a level playing field, desperate to get to market first.
No one really knows how this smartwatch space will pan out, because previous watchphones have been so unremittingly bad.
Apple therefore has the chance to redefine the genre, but then so does Samsung and Google, neither of whom were in the running for that with smartphones back in 2007.
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the first of these smartwatches hit shelves in the run-up to Christmas.
Teams at all three companies will be going into overdrive to get a perfect product onto shelves as soon as possible.
But with Google now in the frame, the concept of wearable tech has fully shifted from bizarre, leftfield novelty to mainstream concern. The era of the smartwatch is upon us.