Once upon a time, the Moto 360 was the best Android Wear smartwatch on the market, which is not unlike calling someone “the world’s tallest midget.” But as Google got busy with other projects and consumers failed to warm to the attractions of the platform, sales appear to have leveled off. A couple of months ago, Google said that the next version of Wear, anticipated for 2016, wouldn’t come out until 2017 sometime, and device manufacturers put their designs back on the shelf for a while.
Now, a Moto exec is saying that its design may stay in that drawer. Shakil Markat, Moto’s head of global product development, told The Verge that he’s not seeing “enough pull in the market” to commit to a new smartwatch. The market is cool enough, he said, that smartwatches aren’t even on the company’s annual product roadmap.
The idea of Android Wear, like its big brother smartphone OS, was to allow device manufacturers to worry about the hardware and let Google worry about the software platform. That way, as with smartphones, a thousand devices would bloom. The reality has turned out somewhat different: there are maybe a dozen Android Wear devices on the market, including high-touch watches from the likes of Huawei and TAG Heuer. Most smartwatches with sales traction either don’t use third-party apps (like Fitbit) or roll their own OS (like Apple, Garmin, or Samsung).
Intel and Google, you’ll recall, have specified a reference platform that watchmakers can adopt and skin with their own physical designs. Fossil is perhaps the largest adopter of it. But it’s looking more and more like that platform will be the only place you’ll see Android Wear in the wild.