Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Google reaches out to suppliers as smartwatch project nears mass production: Source

They already have a wearable computing device readying public launch -- Google Glass -- but the Internet giant isn't resting on its laurels. The company is in late-stage development with a smartwatch a la the Samsung Galaxy Gear, and Google is in talks with Asian components suppliers to begin mass production of the device, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

Unsurprisingly, the new device will run Android and will be integrated with Google Now, the company's personal assistant and Siri rival. As with other smartwatch initiatives, battery life is a problem, and Google is actively working to reduce power consumption on the device.

Battery life has been a pain point for Google Glass users.

Although the Glass smartglasses have recently launched with Version 2, Google's move into smartwatches was expected, to combat other such initiatives as the Samsung Galaxy Gear, already on the market, but to critical non-acclaim, and rumored smartwatches from Apple (the iWatch?) and Microsoft.

There are, of course, other smartwatches, such as the Pebble, but none of these have achieved retail success or defined a market, as the iPad did when Apple first launched it. A lack of major sales has led some to believe that it will be up to the (still just a rumor) iWatch and Apple fans to create the smartwatch market.

According to market research firm ABI Research, annual sales of wearable computing devices. whether smartglasses like Google Glass or smartwatches like the Galaxy Gear, are projected to reach 485 million units by 2018.

Companies will need to overcome battery life issues as well as more utilitarian concerns such as "is it really that big a deal to look at my phone instead of my wrist?"

The Google smartwatch, similar to Google Glass, requires a Bluetooth connection to another, connected, device to access data and alerts. It is unclear when the device will launch, but the source said "within months," which makes sense considering a) Google's lead in wearable computing, b) the watch's point in the development process.

In May, while not confirming any Apple initiatives, Chief Executive Tim Cook said that wearable computers will be a "key branch" in technology. At the same time, though, he expressed doubt that smartglasses would be among the hits, taking aim at Google.

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