Why the $40 million Fossil deal doesn’t make a Google Pixel Watch more likely

You may see the news of Google buying Fossil technology for $40 million and assume it's in an attempt to ready its Google Pixel Watch, but I'm certain it's more than that.

Fossil announced on January 17 that it’s set to sell select smartwatch technology directly to Google in a deal that’s worth $40 million. Exactly what that tech is hasn't been disclosed, but the deal includes access to the secret technology in its entirety and a small portion of Fossil’s research and development team too.

Greg McKelvey, EVP and chief strategy and digital officer of the Fossil Group, told Wareable, it's a “new product innovation that's not yet hit the market".

Rumors of a Google Pixel Watch have been doing the rounds since the middle of 2018 when we thought the company would be releasing its own smartwatch alongside the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

That didn't happen, and instead the company seems to have waited to pounce with its first-party watch. Some have seen this new announcement from Fossil and assumed it makes the Pixel Watch a certainty, but I don't agree.

“New product innovation that's not yet hit the market"

Greg McKelvey speaking to Wareable

You may at first think that's Google getting its hands on technology to use as a unique selling point for a future Pixel Watch device, but it looks to also be a unique feature Google wants on all of Wear OS.

McKelvey continued, "Right now we're focused on finishing off development of the product, The Fossil Group will bring the product to market, across our full breadth of brands over time, and then in true Google fashion, the technology will be expanded across the industry over time to benefit all."

This is bigger than the Google Pixel Watch. If this technology is a game changer, Google would prefer to make its whole Wear OS platform stronger rather than keeping the tech for itself on one device.

It's about making Wear OS stronger than the Apple Watch, Samsung's Tizen devices or Fitbit's new range of smartwatches.

Fitness is one of the areas where Apple, Samsung and Fitbit are all excelling. There's also more specialist competition from the likes of Garmin, Polar and many other running watch competitors that Google isn't currently able to rival in the sporting watch space.

Fossil has confirmed the new technology innovation came from the Misfit arm of its business. Even though we don't know what the technology is, we can assume it's set to be a fitness-led development as that's what Misfit has always specialized in.

That's something all of the current Wear OS lineup could do with improvements in, and by Google opening up the tech to the whole space it'll make every third-party Wear OS watch better for it.

Wear OS is good at tracking your general stats in a workout, but it's lagging behind the Apple Watch in terms of heart rate data and many Wear OS watches aren't as comfortable when you're sweating as some of the alternatives out there.

Google hasn't made a first-party watch in the (almost) five years it has been pushing Android Wear (later to be renamed Wear OS) because it has seen offering a strong, open platform third-party companies can embrace as the most important element.

That's better for everyone looking to buy a smartwatch too, and if this is a fitness-led improvement it may be we see Wear OS watches get better in the long run.

We hope the Pixel Watch does happen

I'm not suggesting the Google Pixel Watch won't ever happen either. In fact, I truly hope it does. 

I do believe Google will put more of an emphasis on its software and by creating hardware that shows it off to the best of its abilities - like the company does with Android and its Pixel phones - that'll help Wear OS thrive.

Google bought a chunk of HTC’s smartphone team at the start of 2018 to bring in-house and work on the Pixel line of devices. It may well be Google plans to repeat that strategy for wearables with Fossil's research and development team for a Pixel Watch, or it may just be for Wear OS overall.

What truly matters to Google is that Wear OS becomes a stronger platform rather than the company making one impressive device.

Fossil make up a good portion of the Wear OS watches you can buy right now, so if this innovation is truly great and it's already being worked into upcoming products by that company it'll bode well for the new tech.

Add a Google Pixel Watch into the mix and, perhaps, a few other devices, this innovation may be worthwhile to Wear OS as a whole and become more important than just Google creating its own smartwatch.

James Peckham

James is Managing Editor for Android Police. Previously, he was Senior Phones Editor for TechRadar, and he has covered smartphones and the mobile space for the best part of a decade bringing you news on all the big announcements from top manufacturers making mobile phones and other portable gadgets. James is often testing out and reviewing the latest and greatest mobile phones, smartwatches, tablets, virtual reality headsets, fitness trackers and more. He once fell over.