[Chronique] The smarter watch than the phone

Many businesses and industries have understood that, to attract parents on a tight budget, it is necessary to bet on family packages. We can not say that this concept is all the rage in wireless, where the price of packages is rarely reduced when you add them up. Without knowing it, Google may have just offered the best way to thwart this system. Thanks to a watch called Pixel.

Google held its annual Google IO conference ten days ago. It is aimed at application publishers for its various IT platforms, but above all, for Android, its mobile software. Android phones don’t enjoy as overwhelming a market share in North America as they do elsewhere on the planet, where they make up more than three out of four phones. With us, it’s about half and half with the Apple iPhone.

But Apple’s dominance in Canada and the United States is beginning to work in favor of Google, which over the past year has become one of the three largest Android phone vendors with Samsung and Motorola (Lenovo). . Its Pixel 6, released last fall, managed to distinguish itself from other Android products thanks to a unique look and surprisingly attractive software customization.

It will have taken a few years, but Google is starting to make its mark in the world of computer hardware. And the company owes this relative success to Rick Osterloh, its vice-president responsible for devices signed Google, and especially the Pixel range.

The former big boss of Motorola took advantage of Google IO to present a new Pixel 6a phone, which will be on the market in a few weeks. Rarely, he also lifted the veil on new products that we won’t see until late next fall: a new generation of the same phone called Pixel 7, an Android system tablet called Pixel Tablet and a connected watch called… Pixel Watch.

All in good time

According to what little Rick Osterloh could say about the Pixel 7, it will be a nicely updated version of the Pixel 6. The Pixel tablet is more intriguing because it will find it difficult to break into this market, where the iPad outrageously dominates its rivals often powered by Microsoft’s Windows 10 system. There are Android tablets, but they’re mostly clunky, with Android not looking great on the big screen. Google has already broken its teeth, ten years ago now, with its Nexus tablets.

There remains the Pixel Watch, a connected watch powered by another Google software, called Wear OS. This software is already found on a host of other smartwatches currently on the market, including Samsung’s newest watch, the Galaxy Watch 4. Google will obviously connect its Pixel Watch to Fitbit’s fitness tracking services, a former watch manufacturer officially acquired last year.

There are still many unknown details about this watch. Especially in terms of its mechanics. The processors used by Wear OS watchmakers tend to age too quickly for buyers’ tastes. Paying $300 for a watch that will only last two years is expensive… And that’s what Apple managed to avoid with its own watch, whose life cycle is at least five years.

In short, very few things guarantee Google’s success in the connected watch market. Except maybe one thing, which was revealed at To have to by Rick Osterloh in person just before the Google IO launch: the Pixel Watch will have on-board cellular connectivity. Like the Apple Watch. And like Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4.

Which means the Pixel Watch will be able to fully function without being paired to a phone: GPS signal, streaming music, receiving alerts and messages, etc. Like the Apple Watch. And like the Galaxy Watch 4, but to a lesser extent.

Google promises a version adapted to its watch of Wear OS, which will undoubtedly include better connected services than the basic version used by Samsung. In fact, Google has the same position as Apple in this market since it produces both the hardware, the software and the services that make up the watch.

Watch at a discount

In short, Google could have in its hands (or on its wrist…) a first real connected watch that can compete with the Apple Watch. In a global mobility market where Android, its other mobile software, is found on three-quarters of the phones in circulation, its potential for commercial success is significant.

Even more important is its ability to influence the price of wireless services downwards. How ? Activating a smartwatch in Canada costs $15 per month. Activating a smart phone never costs less than $60 per month.

However, on the Apple side, you can activate several watches on the same iPhone at the same time, for different members of the same family, for example. You can therefore offer your teenagers an Apple Watch rather than an iPhone and only pay a quarter of the price every month so that they can keep in touch at all times with their friends, their music, etc. Everything else (TikTok, Instagram, etc.) can be done on an old wireless connected to the house wifi, therefore without additional monthly costs.

If Google reproduces this model on its Pixel Watch and offers all of its services by cellular connection, it will then be possible for all these parents with a Pixel to save big. They will be able to reduce their family expenses by unplugging the children’s smartphones… without disconnecting them from their precious online activity.

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