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Why Apple Inc. Should Be Scared of Android Wear

Moto 360 running Android Wear. Source: Motorola

Google  (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )  may have gotten out of the smartphone hardware business last month went it sold Motorola to Lenovo, but this week the company jumped head first into wearables. Google's new Android Wear OS will do for smart watches and other wearable tech what its older Android brother did for smartphones just a few years ago. And that should make Apple  (NASDAQ: AAPL  )  very nervous.

A revamped OS for a new market
To help developers and phone makers make the jump from smartphones to smart watches a little less intimidating, Google's Android Wear is designed with the small screen in mind, free from anything users don't need or can't use on a watch.

Here are a few key ways Google designed Android Wear specifically for wearables:

  • Only give useful information when you need it most
  • Gives straight answers to voice questions
  • Monitors health and fitness
  • Can be used to control other screens, like smartphones and casting to TVs

Take a look at Google's video showcasing a bit of what Android Wear has to offer:

The first movers
Google said on its blog that it already has a list of phone makers it's working with for Android Wear, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung. The company is also working with chipmakers and one of the leading watch companies, Fossil Group. Google said that watches powered by Android Wear will pop up later this year.

Why this matters to Apple
Just as with Android for smartphones, Google wants to dominate the smart watch and wearables space with Android Wear. By releasing a specialized version of Android that's optimized for wearables, the company shores up its place in the growing segment.

LG G Watch. Source: LG

For device makers releasing watches, the initial hype may be later overshadowed by on all-out war to gain traction. Just a handful of companies control most of the Android-powered smartphone market, and I can't imagine Android Wear devices being any different. This means there will be a flood of devices running Android Wear, possibly even before Apple launches its own smart watch.

When Apple debuted the iPhone with iOS, it was clearly years ahead of anything on the market. The phone gobbled up smartphone market share quickly and then Google and phone makers banded together to take on Apple. But with Android already a solid OS leader now, it may be harder for Apple to make headway against smart-watch makers running Android Wear.

Google is working closely with LG on its G Watch smartphone, set to go on sale this summer. Motorola also debuted the Moto 360 this week, a sleek design that looks the most appealing of all smart watches so far. Meanwhile, all we have are rumors of a possible Apple smart watch.

Foolish final thoughts
I think Google's main advantage over Apple is the prevalence of Android devices. We all know that Android dominates the smartphone, grabbing about 79% of worldwide smartphone OS market share in 2013. This number will help feed Google's ecosystem when Android Wear devices go on sale.

More Android phones leads to more Android Wear devices, which lead back to more Android phones. And within all that, Google keeps users tapping into its search and cloud services.

I also think Google Now's predictive systems integrated into Android Wear could outperform some of Apple's current OS offerings. Siri has improved a lot over the past few years, but Google is much more focused on predictive integration than Apple has been. Of course, Apple could enhance this with the launch of an iWatch, but for now I think Google has the upper hand.

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Read/Post Comments (11) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 12:04 PM, Renee wrote:

    Apple isn't scared of Android devices' being better, as shown in the past 3 years.

    As long as the loyal Apple customers don't vote with their wallets, and keep buying their products in droves, they don't care.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:04 PM, bobbydig wrote:

    Sorry, but this is a Google panic attack mode. From what I can see, the Google Wear lacks serious innovation. Its just a small smartphone. Samsung wasn't impressed and ditched Google and did its own thing. How many wearable products are already on the market?

    End of the day, Google will TRY to flood the market with more crappy products complaining marketshare, but Apple will make all the money.

    My suggestion is Google should sell NEST for a 2 billion lose and try to buy Nike. It's their only hope.

    Google has too many projects going no where fast.

    Investors, this is not a good sign.


  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:22 PM, jdmeck wrote:

    First does not equal best. Apple scared? Only in your dreams.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:39 PM, GaryDMN wrote:

    What market for Android Wear, there hasn't even been a successful product and there is somehow a market. More Google marketing fluff.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 1:53 PM, lkmd98 wrote:

    Why does every writer use the same BS. Apple should be "scared!" How about Adroid should be scared about the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7! How about the mac pro. Have you noticed they are still a month behind in orders!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't imagine what their margin are on these units! Why does everyone always bash Apple . Im sick of it. I love every product they make. You are NOT going to get me to buy adroid crap and let google take over my life. Its all about trust. I trust Apple and distrust Google....period....

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 2:06 PM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    Google (and Microsoft + Amazon) still hasn't mastered hardware yet. They lost hundreds of millions on Motorola and Chromecast is not a good seller. I don't think Apple is scared of them or anyone else really. Samsung is the only company that seems to be able to compete w/ Apple on the product front (Android is NOT a product) and only in the low end of the market --- who really wants to buy a crappy $150 anyway?

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 4:16 PM, HiramWalker wrote:

    Neither product exists yet. Google demos a concept and Apple has never said a word other than "interesting", but you give Google the upper hand? Well, we might as well argue about your horoscope. What makes you think anyone wants to read your totally baseless fantasy?

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 4:27 PM, Renee wrote:

    I don't know why so many people above are saying that Google is failing with the Wear product, when no product using that platform has even been released. Nor do I understand why they say that Apple will succeed in this, when their products from the last 3 years have been seriously behind on performance features and quality.

    Google hasn't really been in the hardware business long. Motorola, they bought for the patents and quickly sold them. Google Glass is still in Beta so you don't know if it will succeed.

    Apple has a devoted consumer base that has (for the past 3 years) paid premium prices for intermediate (at best) products, but will that customer base come back for more? That is not guaranteed either, as eventually unsupported loyalty fades.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 5:25 PM, GaryDMN wrote:

    How many Android Wear devices have been sold? I think Google is scared and throwing anything they can think of against the wall, hoping something will stick. Like the vapor wear markets Google has created around Google Glass and Android Wear, that the press is saying are huge, but in reality, don't even exist, outside if the hundreds of articles written about them a month.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 5:32 PM, Renee wrote:

    There are no Wear devices out yet. There are wearable devices using Android, but those are not Android Wear. Don't get the two confused, as Wear was built from the ground up to be wearable.

    Glass is still in beta/developer stage. What do you want from a product that's still being tested?

    And it's not vaporware, as there are already thousands of working examples of it out there being used by developers, testers and journalists. Vaporware is when it's just rumor and promises, but not real example of the product

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2014, at 6:08 PM, JarJarThomas wrote:

    The problem with Android Wear

    -> it is only a concept

    -> The sdk is only a modified android wich itself is an extreme resource hog compared to ios.

    Google Glas also had a great concept video and not even a tenth of that is working.

    So chances are high that

    -> the concept video is just that ... a concept and nothing that will really exist (see the video, it says screens are simulated, functionality is concept)

    -> the real implementation will have similar problems like the gear ... to less battery, to less usefull functionality

    -> google now does not work as good as shown in the concept ( i always read how magical it should be, truth is it never predicted anything i want correctly. Probably because i try to not spread my data over the world)

    Also look at the list of googles failed projects

    -> nexus q

    -> chromecast (it is not even something new, you could by something like that 2010)

    -> google glass

    -> google wave

    -> android@home (remember the lights that can be controlled by your smartphone .. well they exist ... for ios)

    -> googletv

    -> their social experiments where you even doesn't know their name

    There is only one successfull project at google that was really theirs from the beginning and was not bought ... it is search. All the other parts are just bought. Maps, docs, ads ...

    And there was nothing that was not just copied

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Chris Neiger

Chris has covered Tech and Telecom companies for The Motley Fool since 2012. Follow him on Twitter for the latest tech stock coverage.

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