Why Android Wear Is the Beginning of the Wearable Devices Era

MARCH 21, 2014, 7:00 AM
Why Android Wear Is the Beginning of the Wearable Devices Era
Any nascent technology needs a platform in order to be successful. This week, Google gave wearable devices that platform.
With the announcement of Android Wear, Google has officially kicked off the wearables era. The availability of an operating system for wearables will lead to an almost immediate boom in device development.As every device maker knows, the hardest thing about creating a new hardware platform is creating the software to go along with it. Pebble arguably relaunched the smart watch conversation with its devices, but has struggled to get developers to contribute meaningful features. That’s understandable, since the market for Pebble watches is currently pretty small. Pebble app development is a passion project, at best.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and forthcoming Gear 2 are watches with plenty of features, but are hampered by their compatibility with just a few Samsung phones. The original Gear was based on Android, but for the Gear 2, Samsung has switched to its own Tizen operating system, and is releasing a software developer kit in hopes of wooing developers to create apps for the watch.
But again, why would they? If you’re an app developer and you want to make money, you want to be on a platform with a lot of reach, a high chance of adoption, and ideally one with a track record of users who actually pay for apps. Since the most profitable option, iOS, isn’t yet available for wearables, a wearable-tailored version of Android is the next best choice.
Best of all, with the burden of creating a platform, wooing developers, and implementing a user interface from scratch offloaded to Google, smart watch makers can get down to the business that really matters: creating devices people actually want to wear.
The mockups of the forthcoming Moto 360 are just plain hot. The Android Wear-powered LG G Watch looks disappointingly square (as in, literally square), but not unreasonably clunky.
Ecosystems matter, and Android is currently the most popular ecosystem in the world. And Google Now is a service that’s almost tailor-made for wearables, with its contextual notifications about things like traffic, weather alerts, incoming messages, sports scores,and travel updates. Google’s promotional video for Android Wear is actually startlingly similar to its original Project Glass video, but seems exponentially more practical as wrist-wear.
I predict Android Wear will jump-start the wearables industry in a meaningful way, and quickly. For manufacturers who have been on the fence about creating a wearable, the barrier to entry just got a lot lower — and Apple just fell a little farther behind.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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