Expect more smartwatches and wearables this year, Qualcomm executive says

qualcomm
Karlis Dambrans/Flickr
The smartwatch market took a hit in 2016 — hardly any Android Wear smartwatches shipped, and sales were down due to lack of demand. But Qualcomm’s wearables business lead doesn’t agree with that assessment and is more optimistic than ever.

“I don’t buy those trends,” Pankaj Kedia, senior director of product management at Qualcomm, told Digital Trends at CES. “Android Wear launched June 2014, Apple Watch in April 2015, the first Tizen watch launched September 2014, and the first WebOS watch launched February 2016 — this is a new category. Categories don’t happen in a year … categories take a few years to get established. All these things we’re talking about are from the last two years. ”

While 2016 may not have been the best year for the category, 2017 is going to see an “accelerated” burst of wearable devices, such as smartwatches. For Qualcomm, Kedia says it’s the year fashion meets technology and the chip-maker’s investment is only going up.

“We feel so strongly about the category that we took Snapdragon, our marquee brand, and created a sub-brand, Snapdragon Wear,” he said. “If we did not feel strongly about the wearables category, Qualcomm would not take their crown jewels and extend them.”

Snapdragon Wear 2100 is a processor built specifically for smartwatches, and the company later released the Snapdragon Wear 1100 for more targeted wearables, like trackers.

Qualcomm is focusing on its current portfolio of the Wear 2100 and 1100 for upcoming devices in the next six months. Kedia said the third generation of Wear 2100 is in the execution stage, and Qualcomm is already planning the fourth generation.

The focus for this year’s wearables is fashion — Kedia says to expect “many more smartwatches” from fashion brands to be announced at Baselworld 2017, the annual jewelry and watch trade show in March.

While Fossil kicked things off last year with its large portfolio of smartwatches, the trend continues with Misfit’s newly announced Vapor, as well as an upcoming Android Wear smartwatch by Swarovski. Kedia said fashion brands emphasize that people don’t like wearing technology, but they like wearing fashion.

“Swarovski came to us and they said ‘most of the smartwatches today seem like they are built for men, and the definition of a women’s watch is rose gold but the size doesn’t change,” Kedia said. “‘Now, I want to build the smallest, thinnest, smartwatch on the planet — it needs to look feminine.'”

That means there has to be an open channel between Google, Qualcomm, and Swarovski to meet the hardware and software standards for the watch to be a smartwatch meant “for her.”

If you thought smartwatches were just a trend, think again. Motorola may have gotten out of the race, but Google says it has no plans to abandon the platform and is expected to launch two new smartwatches this year alongside Android Wear 2.0.

“If you look at the numbers, if you look at how smartwatches have grown over the last two years, if you look at the investments the customers are making, if you look at the investments platform companies are making — Google, Baidu in China, Samsung on Tizen, and Apple on WatchOS — all of these are moving up, not down. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re investing for the long-haul.”

And the buck doesn’t stop with smartwatches. Kedia says Qualcomm is working with companies in the shoe, car, glass industry to build more connected wearable products to enhance the way we interact with everyday objects.

Product Review

Fitbit’s trimmed-down Versa Lite still has all the smartwatch features you need

Fitbit trimmed some of the features it bundles in its popular Versa smartwatch to keep the price low on it newest smartwatch, the Versa Lite. Does this strategy work? Read our review to find out.
Wearables

Garmin adds a splash of spring color to its Instinct hiking smartwatches

Just in time for the spring season, Garmin is refreshing its Instinct GPS smartwatch with a fresh coat of paint that brings three new colors to this outdoors-focused watch that debuted last fall.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for March 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for March 2019

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.
Wearables

Time to get to the gym: The fitness-loving Galaxy Watch Active is now available

Looking for a new fitness buddy? Samsung just launched the Galaxy Watch Active and the Galaxy Fit, two new wearables with a raft of fitness-focused features that'll keep you moving and get you down to the gym.
Product Review

Casio’s Pro Trek WSD-F30 outdoors smartwatch fits city lifestyles, too

It’s equipped with all the outdoor tools and sensors you want, but the Casio Pro Trek WSD-F30 is as much a lifestyle smartwatch as it is trekking companion.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Home Theater

IPX what? The electronics water- and dust-resistance rating explained

Increasingly, consumer electronics companies are using an IPX code to demonstrate that their products are water and dust resistant. But what does this IPX code mean? We break it all down and walk you through it.
Wearables

Fitbit Versa Lite versus Fitbit Versa: How are they different?

Fitbit took the best of its popular Versa smartwatch and removed some elements to create the new Versa Lite, an even more affordable entry-level smartwatch. How does the Versa Lite differ from the original Versa? Read on to find out.
Wearables

You will never need to charge a smartwatch again, if new EU project succeeds

A new EU research project has launched into finding a new way of powering wearable devices, with the intention of using an energy harvesting system to ensure we never have to charge one up ever again.
Wearables

Garmin Marq series offers stylish performance for those willing to pay for it

Garmin had been around for 30-years and is celebrating its anniversary with a big announcement: The Marq, a new series of premium adventure smartwatches designed for consumers who want stylish performance and are willing to pay for it.
Wearables

These are the best smartwatches for everything from fashion to fitness

Tempted to buy a smartwatch? If so, then the growing number of great models available means you've got plenty to choose from. But which one should you pick? Here is our list of the best smartwatches.
Mobile

Even older Apple Watches could be effective at spotting heart conditions

The Apple Watch Series 4 is known for detecting heart conditions like atrial fibrillation thanks to having an electrocardiograph feature. It turns out that older Apple Watches could be effective at tracking AFib, too.
Home Theater

Here are some common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.