Google's Wear OS platform loses traction, Huawei announces in-house replacement

Google's Wear OS smartwatch platform is struggling, according to the latest research from Canalys. As detailed in their report, Google Wear OS devices only accounted for 4.1% of the smart wearable devices market in Q2 2019.

Apple Watch, by comparison, controlled a 37.9 percent stake of the market. In a strong show of robust demand, Apple's smartwatch produced 2.9 million sales during the previous quarter. That is up from 2.2 million shipments in Q2 2018.

While the likes of Apple, Samsung and Fitbit are all experiencing growth in sales and U.S. market share, Google's platform is going in the opposite direction. The major Wear OS watch purveyor Fossil currently has a 4.1 percent share of the smart wearable market in mid-2019, with around 300,000 sales during Q2.

The other big winner in comparison to Apple is Fitbit, the research says. Fitbit has almost a quarter of the current market at present, with a 24.1 percent share of the smart wearable band sales. Sales year-on-year are up from 1.6 million last year to 1.9 million in the last quarter.

That news comes even after it emerged the Fitbit Versa Lite smartwatch had not sold as well as the fitness-focused company had hoped, leading to a 27 percent fall in its product sales. Commentators assume a boost in sales of the company's other smart wearables are making up for the shortfall.

Outside of the Fossil Group most smartwatch and fitness trackers use homemade software. Fitbit and Garmin both use proprietary operating systems. Samsung, the next biggest wearables maker users its own, Tizen OS.

Other brands that currently feature WearOS include TicWatch, Misfit and Huawei, but even that sector might be in for some change.

Earlier this month, Huawei announced the launch of its own home-made operating system, Harmony OS, at an event in China. Harmony OS is the official name of the long-rumored HongMeng OS, which was initially being touted as a replacement for Android.

The new Huawei operating system will support a wide variety of devices including smartwatches, as well as phones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, speakers and in-vehicle systems.

The company says Harmony OS is "a deterministic latency engine that gives a smooth interactive experience. That means latency is at a minimum, bringing fluid interactive experience."

"Harmony OS is completely different from Android and iOS," said Richard Yu, CEO – Huawei Consumer Business Group. "It's a microkernel-based, distributed OS that delivers a smooth experience across all scenarios. It has trustworthy and secure architecture and it supports seamless collaboration across devices. You can develop your apps once, then flexibly deploy them across a range of different devices."

While the HongMeng OS was rumored to be in development for at least the past 2 years, it gained prominence during Huawei's trade blacklisting by the States. According to Huawei, Harmony OS is not a replacement for Android, but can be used on smartphones if its access to Android is cut off.

This means Huawei phones and tablets will continue to use Android for the time being, with Harmony OS a fall-back option if things go awry.

Harmony OS will be headed to Honor smart TVs first, followed by Huawei and Honor wearables and laptops in 2020, said the firm.

Huawei is expected to bring out a Harmony OS powered smartwatch in the near future. The company's past offerings came with its own Lite OS as well as Wear OS but neither managed to gain significant uptake with consumers.

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