Smart­watch ven­dors’ plans

Com­pa­nies are hold­ing off re­fresh­ing their line-ups be­fore Christ­mas, finds Derek Wal­ter

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The com­pa­nies be­hind some of the top An­droid Wear watches are head­ing for the bench. LG, Huawei and Mo­torola aren’t plan­ning a new smart­watch in the fi­nal months of the year, ac­cord­ing to a CNET re­port. This de­ci­sion is driven by a sense among these com­pa­nies that wear­ables have yet to be­come the hot item they were once thought to be. The pub­lic’s en­thu­si­asm just doesn’t match that it has for smart­phones, which still drive many buy­ers to an an­nual up­grade cy­cle. With Christ­mas ap­proach­ing, it ap­pears they are go­ing into the sea­son with an un­changed line-up.

It’s not just An­droid Wear that’s hit­ting the dol­drums. An IDC an­a­lyst said that Ap­ple Watch ship­ments have fallen 55 per­cent from a year ago into the sec­ond quar­ter.

“Smart­watches still have yet to make a sig­nif­i­cant im­pres­sion on con­sumers as a must-have de­vice,” ex­plained Ra­mon Lla­mas, an an­a­lyst at IDC, told CNET.

Ap­ple re­cently re­leased the Ap­ple Watch Series 2 and a re­freshed Series 1, re­tool­ing them to fo­cus to health and fit­ness. Sam­sung, mean­while, will re­lease the Gear S3, which runs its own Tizen software, later in the year. On the An­droid Wear front, it ap­pears that LG is stick­ing with its Watch Ur­bane Sec­ond Edi­tion LTE as the flag­ship for the re­main­der of the year. Mo­torola’s cur­rent sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Moto 360 was re­leased last Oc­to­ber, so the com­pany may go be­yond a year be­fore of­fer­ing a new model.

In­stead of new hard­ware, the most com­pelling change to the smart­watch ex­pe­ri­ence will be with An­droid Wear 2.0. The up­date should hit the vast ma­jor­ity of watches out there (not the first-gen­er­a­tion Moto 360, un­for­tu­nately), so if you have one you’ll be able to get a re­freshed ex­pe­ri­ence with­out the need to splurge for new hard­ware.

If you’ve yet to dip into the An­droid Wear waters, this mo­men­tary pause by some of the hard­ware com­pa­nies may mean deals for you as cur­rent watches are likely to dip in price as they age. Given that Ap­ple is tar­get­ing fit­ness more di­rectly, we’d ex­pect this same type of fo­cus to emerge on the An­droid Wear side, as most of us want a smart­watch to of­fer fit­ness track­ing and bits of data in­stead of try­ing to take over from our smart­phone.

The Moto 360 Sport is Mo­torola’s at­tempt to woo buy­ers who want a watch fo­cused on fit­ness and health needs

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