By Paresh Dave
OAKLAND: Google’s first smartwatch goes on sale Oct. 13 for $350, unit Alphabet Inc.
At $100 more than Apple Inc’s cheapest model and limited to people with Android phones, the Google Pixel Watch faces huge hurdles to adoption, market analysts say. Even Apple Watch sales have plummeted this year as consumers delay purchases or choose cheaper rivals.
“The market isn’t as robust as it once was,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research director at market intelligence firm IDC, adding that aggressive discounts will be crucial for Google.
Google apps already work with watches from companies like Apple, Samsung Electronics Co and Fitbit, which Google bought last year and whose devices are known to track personal health.
The new round-faced Pixel Watch, crafted from stainless steel and glass with dozens of strap options, enables contactless payments, music control, and turn-by-turn directions. A model with cellular connectivity costs $50 more.
The watches will be sold in the United States and several other countries. They won’t partner with iPhones because Apple gives its own watches exclusive access to messaging and other important features that users would want, said Sandeep Waraich, director of product management at Google.
Hardware sales are a growing share of Google’s sales, with the benefits also coming from more opportunities to sell ads and service subscriptions.
Google also said its latest smartphones will go on sale in 17 countries from October 13. They include a $599 Pixel 7 with a 6.3-inch screen and a brighter $899 7 Pro with a 6.7-inch screen, extra zoom and extra RAM.
Although a small player overall in smartphones, Google’s sales are accelerating. It shipped 3 million phones in the first half of this year, up 131% from a year ago, according to tracking firm Canalys.