Some quick thoughts on Android Wear

After what seemed like years of speculation, fueled by acquisitions and Google’s clear interest in wearables with Glass, the company finally announced a wearable-centric version of Android with an associated SDK for app developers.

It’s a big deal because, for the first time (other than Pebble OS, which is only available for Pebble devices at this point), there is a dedicated and open OS tailored towards wearables with a real ecosystem of developers standing behind it.

Here are some quick thoughts about what I think this means:

  • It will no doubt light a fire under both hardware and software innovation in the wearables space, with smartwatches benefiting most in the near term.
  • This is going to give significant momentum to the  wearable app ecosystem. Up until now, most wearable/smartwatch makers had to either force-fit full Android or do extensive work with embedded RTOS to work on a wearable,  much like Pebble and Meta had done.
  • I think those smartwatch players that are delayed and still trying to get to market (like I write about here) might as well just give what money they haven’t burned through back to their backers.  I’m disappointed for startups like Agent, who I thought had real potential, but I think these companies missed their opportunity to foster any developer interest while there was a gaping hole in the market. Now Android Wear has filled that gaping hole and I think most developers looking to create for the wearable space will develop for Android Wear or wait for a comparable offering from Apple for iOS.
  • Speaking of iOS, the clock keeps ticking for Apple. I think they’re going big with their wearable push- which is why they’re taking so long – but you think they have to be feeling a little pressure at this point.
  • There is going to be a fast-march to launch by a number CE players into wearables on the backs of Android Wear.  I think you’ll see most Android-centric smartphone players at least dabble in the space, and probably a number of new players march in. There is a big opportunity to develop a real fashion brand around smartwatches, and I don’t know if the existing Android hardware players are necessarily going to be the ones.
  • I think Pebble and Meta should be worried, but I think given this is going to be a big market. Both have been developing software platforms that can likely be used as alternatives for anyone interested in acquiring their own platform.

If you’re interested, you can hear an extensive set of interviews of smartwatch companies and users I conducted last summer here.