Google is reportedly working on its first in-house smartwatch, which it plans to release in 2022, in a bid to challenge Apple’s dominance in the wearable device segment. The news was first reported by Business Insider, citing sources, as reported by The National. The device, codenamed “Rohan”, is being developed by Google’s Pixel hardware unit and not by Fitbit.
Fitbit was acquired by the technology behemoth for $2.1 billion in January this year amid expectations that it would drive its renewed push into making hardware.
“A Google-branded smartwatch would involve the company going toe-to-toe with Apple, whose watch has proved a runaway success and captured control of the smartwatch market,” the report said.
The watch is being called “Pixel Watch”, presumably to match Google’s line-up of Pixel smartphones, although executives have used “Android Watch” and a variety of other names to address it, the report said. This confirms another report from Jon Prosser, a blogger known for sharing Android product leaks, in April this year. Mr Prosser had confirmed the existence of the device and its Rohan codename.
Google does not comment on rumours or speculation, the company’s Mena office told The National on Sunday when asked for a comment.
This is not Google’s first attempt at making its own smartwatch: a Google-branded wearable device was cancelled at the last minute in 2016, after the company decided to focus on its software, Wear OS, rather than integrate it into its own hardware.
Any attempts by Google to take on Apple Watch would be a tall order, given the head start the iPhone maker has and the market share it commands in the smartwatch segment.
A launch in the spring is possible if the latest testing rounds are a success but this would change depending on employees’ feedback. The device will come with its own proprietary bands – similar to those from Apple – with Google putting an emphasis on fit for a larger user base.
“An early concept document seen by Insider described Google’s ambitions to build a watch that would be comfortable to wear for at least 90 per cent of the population,” the report said, quoting the document. The document said “insufficient sizing excludes some users from wearable ‘wristables’ entirely”.