New brands from its designer stable will get into Android Wear touchscreen smartwatches in 2018. We don't know how many or which ones. It's all very hush hush. But considering that IDC estimates that Fossil Group is now the fifth biggest manufacturer of smartwatches in the world, having increased its quarterly sales to one million devices, this could be a pretty big deal.
Here's the exact line in the release:
"In 2018, Fossil Group will add new brands to its touchscreen smartwatch lineup powered by Google's Android Wear."
Here's what Fossil Group VP Antonio Nigro had to say:
Antonio: We have some more brands upcoming for 2018 so as soon as we're ready to announce that, you'll be the first to know.
Sophie: Women's brands? Men's brands?
Antonio: Both, of course.
Sophie: Will they be out in the first half of next year? At Baselworld?
Antonio: You're going to find out. There's gonna be more brands coming in 2018 for Android Wear.
OK we get it, Fossil isn't telling.
I also pointed out that Android Pay is a feature that makes sense for fashionable, everyday Android Wear smartwatches like the 2017 Fossil Group lot to which Nigro agreed, saying: "Yep, not at the moment but let's see for the future. We will be looking into all the features that consumers want on our smartwatches."
Nigro also talked about the stamp that designers and labels are putting on the Android Wear collections, including Kate Hudson wearing the new Michael Kors Access Sofie and Shawn Mendes posing in Emporio Armani Connected ads. Then there are the branded micro apps like Diesel's T-ON-I on the On Full Guard which fogs up the screen when you're inactive: "Diesel.. those guys are funny. If you're not moving, the watch collects dust. You need to start moving more. It's just a funny way where the brand can get involved."
Here's some scientific rigour for you. The seven Fossil Group brands who have hybrid smartwatches already on sale or coming this year but have not yet released an Android Wear watch are as follows:
- Armani Exchange
- Kate Spade New York
- Marc Jacobs
- Tory Burch
So it will be two or more of these designer names, - note "new brands" plural - but that's all we can assume at this stage.
Our initial prediction is that Armani Exchange is one of these as Emporio Armani already has a Connected AW watch. Skagen and Kate Spade were two of the first brands to go hybrid so they're also up there, though we're not sure Skagen's minimalism will translate when processors and screens and mics are added into the mix. Chaps and Relic are also set to launch hybrid watches but we haven't seen these yet and it's unlikely Android Wear watches would launch first.
Final prediction: the new designer Android Wear watches will launch at the Baselworld watch show next March, following this year's big splash.
Which Fossil Group accessory brand would you like to try an Android Wear smartwatch? Let us know your wishes in the comments below.