After I reviewed the Pixel Watch final 12 months, skeptics saved asking me the identical questions time and again: Do you suppose Google’s truly going to maintain this factor going? Do you suppose it’s going to ax the Pixel Watch if it doesn’t promote?
These are truthful inquiries to ask. Regardless of being among the many first to the wearable scene in 2014, it let Android Put on after which Put on OS languish for years. Plus, Google’s graveyard of deserted initiatives is notoriously huge. Whereas I used to be fairly assured we’d see a Pixel Watch 2, I didn’t suppose the Pixel Watch — a better-than-expected debut with some very first-gen flaws — would succeed to the diploma it did. Throughout This fall 2022 (aka the vacation season), Google leapfrogged Samsung to turn out to be the No. 2 bestselling wearable maker behind Apple, delivery 880,000 items.
However the query stays. Can Google maintain the momentum going?
Now can be the most effective time to show that it could possibly. Apple and Samsung have already launched their 2023 flagship smartwatches — and whereas all are wonderful, they’re the definition of iterative. Each corporations are long-term gamers on this subject, too. Every new Apple Watch or Galaxy Watch is a refinement of the final. As a newcomer, Google has much more room to develop.
On the flip aspect, the Pixel Watch’s flaws have been simpler to forgive as a result of it was a debut smartwatch. It’s a uncommon gadget that knocks it out of the park on a primary try. It didn’t assist that final 12 months’s Google wearable lineup was a complicated jumble of three smartwatches. To distinguish between the Pixel Watch, Fitbit Versa 4, and Fitbit Sense 2, Google nerfed the Pixel Watch’s well being options and the Fitbit smartwatches’ beforehand accessible sensible options. Battery life at launch was additionally the pits. You possibly can solely get the estimated 24 hours for those who babied the battery and turned the always-on show off.
A few of this has since been addressed in subsequent software program updates. However the Pixel Watch 2 is a chance to indicate that Google not solely listened to suggestions but in addition handled it. If it doesn’t, it’s more durable to show a blind eye to recognized points on a sophomore try, particularly since there’s no purpose it shouldn’t have the ability to enhance battery life, develop well being options, and ship a greater consumer expertise. Google has a decade’s price of rival smartwatches to attract inspiration from. Not like Apple or Samsung, Google doesn’t need to revolutionize smartwatches to drum up pleasure across the Pixel Watch 2. It simply needs to be noticeably higher than final 12 months’s.
Actually, it solely has to ship an identical expertise to the Galaxy Watch 6. Samsung and Google have each given up on profitable over iOS customers as a result of their Put on OS watches are Android solely. So that is to see who reigns over the extremely fragmented Android smartwatch market.
For the previous 10 years, Samsung has been the de facto chief partly as a result of it had strong merchandise and partly as a result of everybody else was a sizzling mess. That is regardless of the truth that a few of its well being options, like EKGs, are gatekept to Samsung cellphone customers. Fossil watches, whereas prolific, have all the time been design-first, with middling smarts and well being options second. Garmins served a selected area of interest of outdoorsy athletes. Mobvoi had a good shot with loyal TicWatch followers till it fumbled the transition to Put on OS 3. Huawei watches, whereas good, have been stymied by commerce bans. Montblanc watches value $1,000.
It might not take quite a bit for Google to personal this area. It’s already succeeding in convincing third-party makers to hop aboard the Put on OS practice. Xiaomi is the newest to ditch a proprietary OS for the platform with its newly introduced Watch 2 Professional. The attract of the Play Retailer is simply too sturdy. (Talking of which, Google’s been laborious at work getting third-party app builders to truly purchase in.) As long as the Pixel Watch 2 doesn’t fall on its face, the stress is on for Samsung to indicate everybody one thing they haven’t seen earlier than. And that’s quite a bit more durable to do.
For all these causes, quite a bit is definitely driving on the Pixel Watch 2 when it’s unveiled on October 4th. Successful gained’t put Samsung down for the depend, however it is going to make my job (and lots of others) of selecting the most effective Android smartwatch quite a bit more durable. A flop… effectively, that simply provides extra fodder for Google’s popularity as an organization with huge concepts and no follow-through.