The Apple Watch Series 5 last week kickstarted a conversation about Google, smartwatches, and how Wear OS fails to be a meaningful competitor. A new report today sheds light on Made by Google’s smartwatch ambition and how Rick Osterloh in 2016 killed Google-branded devices.
In the lead-up to the inaugural Made by Google in 2016, there were rumors about first-party smartwatches. Of course, the October 4th hardware event came and went with no such Google Pixel Watch unveiled.
According to Business Insider today, those watches were at one point set to be announced alongside the Pixel and Pixel XL, but Rick Osterloh pulled the plug at the last second due to a number of reasons. The newly minted hardware chief wanted a unified design language across products.
That was not the case between the LG-made watches and other released products, but more concerning was performance and the lack of synergy between the wearables and Pixel phones. Apparently something as basic as syncing “didn’t work that great,” according to a former employee on the project. Osterloh ultimately did not “want a peripheral product to bring down the name of the Google hardware brand.” It seems that the watches were closer to the Nexus model with LG than the Pixel.
These factors led to the project being canned at the last second, even though the product photoshoot was finished. It’s unclear if a final name was ever decided upon, with a source speaking to BI interestingly noting that Pixel phone branding “wasn’t finalized until very late.”
Ultimately, the product was “salvaged” and launched as the LG Watch Style and LG Watch Sport. The report goes on to discuss the current dismal state of Wear OS on both the sales and developer support front. Citing sources, Business Insider says that no Pixel Watch or other similar Google-made device is coming next month.