Why Google Now could jump-start the smartwatch market

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

The Wall Street Journal has the scoop of the day with this piece claiming that Google “is in late-stage development” on a smartwatch and is negotiating with Asian hardware companies to begin mass production. The Android-based gadget will be able to communicate with smartphones and other devices, according to the Journal, and production could start in the next few months. And Google has focused on reducing power consumption in an effort to address one of the biggest challenges in the nascent wearables market.

I’m pretty skeptical of the smartwatch market in the short term because I don’t think they bring a lot of value to mainstream consumers. While some health- and fitness-centric smartwatches will surely find an audience among the active set, it’s difficult to justify a price tag of $100 or more for more basic models (except for some small niches like the youth market).

But Google Now should be a big selling point here. The app serves as an intelligent personal assistant that pushes highly customized information based on user preferences and behavior patterns. So it delivers everything from real-time traffic and weather to car rental information gleaned from confirmation emails. That kind of information is ideal for smartwatches, where it could be viewed easily and quickly without forcing a user to pull out their phones. Which is why I believe Google Now is an ideal fit for wearable devices.