The Wall Street Journal reports (paid subscription or free metered view) that Google is in talks with Asian suppliers to begin high volume manufacturing of a smartwatch product that could be available to consumers in months.
According to the report, this new device is in late stage development and will operate on Google’s Android operating system. The company has reportedly worked on addressing what is perceived as two limitations of current smartwatches, reducing power consumption within this new device, offering the attraction of less battery charging, and broader functionality. This watch will reportedly be able to communicate with electronic devices such as other smartphones, and will be integrated with Google Now.
This announcement is significant because it is yet another indication that consumer electronics providers are making big bets that a smartwatch will be the next focus of innovation. In September, Samsung announced its Galaxy Gear smartwatch in an attempt to gain first-mover advantage in the market. That announcement somewhat upstaged announcements from Qualcomm and Sony for their respective smartwatch products, which was a credit to their respective product development and supply chain teams.
There have been numerous reports and rumors indicating that Apple has been working on development of its smartwatch product and some Apple watchers were expecting an announcement of such a product this year. This published news that Google is in late-stage development is a strong indication that Google intends to stake its presence in this market segment and will most likely add additional pressure on Apple and its supply chain for time-to-market in this product segment. In is uncharacteristic for Apple to be a late entrant in a new consumer electronics market segment and with this news regarding Google’s expected entry, the pressure is indeed mounting.