Google Android Wear was one product segment that was missing from Google’s big hardware event last week. In addition, the Google Store site somehow removed LG’s Android Wear watches following the event. Add to it, a lack of user interest in the Android Wear 2. All these raised concerns that Google might consider making some hard decisions. However, the latest development puts to rest all such rumors.
According to Hoi Lam, a Wearables Developer Advocate at Google, Android Wear 2.0 would no longer receive OTA updates. Instead, all the updates can be downloaded from the Play Store. This will ensure that customers receive a timelier update. In fact, Lam notes that the Android Wear team already released one update via the Play Store, bringing third party chat app support in Contacts, improving Play Store discoverability for new users, and other features and bug fixes.
With regular updates available via the Play Store, Google will now have tighter control over the wearables compared to the OTA updates. There is, however, no plan to scrap the OTA updates because the company would need it for major updates on the platform.
Android Wear 2 is not having a good run with Apple Watch taking the major chunk of the wearable market. When launched, Android Wear was seen as a potential threat to Apple Watch, but numbers tell a different story. According to a recent report from IDC, only one watch powered by Android Wear has made it to the top five smartwatch brands, and even that brand (Fossil) is in the fifth spot.
Just a month ago, Verizon discontinued its Verizon Wear24, which debuted hardly five months back. Critics note that Verizon Wear24 was too pricey for its features and what it was offering to the customer. The wearable lacked basic features such as support for the mobile payments. It seems the non-impressive features and an uphill task to compete against the largely popular Apple Watch weighed on Verizon Wearable.
Not just Verizon, but the overall journey of Android Wear has not been smooth this year. Last week there were reports that Google scrapped its wearable page from its Google online store, following which many believed that Google might be abandoning the segment. However, Google has rather a very simple explanation behind this.
Under the new sales strategy, Google wants to promote only Google made hardware, says Hoi Lam. Lam, in a tweet earlier, noted that since there is no indigenous product in the wearable category as of now, there is nothing to display. What Lam explained was in perfect synch with the Pixel 2 event theme, where Google focused on the tag line “Made by Google.”
Instead of its official store, Google is promoting the Android Wear by other companies on other retailer websites such as Amazon. “The Google Store team made a change that they will only stock Google made hardware … Our team knew the plan for a year now and invested in custom store fronts with online retailers [like Amazon].”
For now, there is nothing on Google made Android Wear, but expectations are high. The last time when Google decided to go solo with a smartphone, it was a hit.