Apple owns almost half of the global market for smartwatches by unit volume and much more than that by revenue share, and the division that reports Apple Watch revenue grew more than 50% this quarter, closing the last 12 months with over $17 billion in revenue.
Now Apple will have real competition.
Apple has built a tight integration between Apple Watch, iPhone, and AirPods, and that tight integration, along with the company’s excellent execution, has made it the market leader. But Cupertino’s $17 billion in revenue in this category is only a tiny slice of what the company thinks it will eventually become.
Wearables are about integrating technology into our lives, but their impact is perhaps most profound on our fitness and health. Globally, that industry is worth a staggering $4.2 trillion.
That’s an industry Apple wants a piece of. A big piece:
Not shockingly, Google cannot pass up an opportunity to be a player in multi-trillion-dollar industry.
As in smartphones, where Google felt the only way to deliver a truly excellent Android experience is to build the hardware and software together (where have we heard that before, Steve Jobs?), Google has decided the same is true in wearables and smartwatches.
Originally called Android Wear, Wear OS has had its issues since being initially released in 2014. And it hasn’t always been clear where the operating system – and the ecosystem of devices, apps, and infrastructure that a new business unit requires – fit in Google’s priorities.
Now we know.
And Google intends to build this out as an ecosystem play, as the company’s SVP for devices and services, Rick Osterloh, makes clear:
Now Google will be able to compete on a level playing field with Apple. There’s a lot of work to do, hardware to be built, and software to write. But there’s also a massive multi-trillion-dollar market to access.
Today, wearables monitor activity, check your heart rate, tell the time, and give you alerts and notifications. Some, like the LTE Apple Watch, have full phone-like communication capabilities. But in the future, they’ll monitor our health in much more sophisticated ways.
That will increase their value to customers, and will increase the value of the data they generate.
Clearly, the most interesting days of the wearable technology ecosystem battles are ahead of us.