A Polar Return to Wear OS?
In an interview with Wareable, Polar’s CEO, Sander Werring, hinted that the company is considering a return to Google’s Wear OS platform. The move would mark a significant change away from Polar’s recent focus on its own sports platform. Werring discussed CPU advancements and stated that Polar is “excited” about the potential of Wear OS. Polar’s last Wear OS device, the Polar M600, was launched in 2015, and Werring believes that the technology has now matured enough to make a new Polar Wear OS device a reality.
While I don’t have any insider information from my Polar sources on this matter, the report suggesting that the company is considering a return to Wear OS seems quite plausible to me.
Compared to seven years ago, Wear OS is now technically significantly more advanced, and Polar likely still possesses the skills and knowledge from its previous venture onto the platform. Back then, the company produced a decent product that I personally enjoyed, I’d hope they can do it again.
In 2023, we can expect the Wear OS watch hardware platform to become more widely available for third parties, following Samsung and Google’s exclusive hold on the market in 2022.
In addition, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Polar or even Suunto release a Wear OS watch this year. It would seem sensible that Polar would produce a running/fitness flavour of a smartwatch, whereas Suunto would more likely build on the maps and adventure side of its excellent Suunto 7 Wear OS watch from 2020.
Why Wear OS though?
Polar and Suunto simply do not have the customer base or internal resources to compete with Apple’s truly smart watches. Even Garmin struggles to match the integrated smart features offered by the Apple Watch. Such features include music streaming, onboard maps and routing, contactless payments, home automation control, finding and tracking features, phone-free calling, and high levels of interactivity with messaging apps. Garmin cannot offer all of these features, but Suunto and Polar could if they produced a Wear OS Watch.
The catch is that, while battery life and performance continue to improve every year, Wear OS battery performance is still broadly in line with what the Apple Watch can produce, rather than in line with the multi-week capabilities of non-AMOLED watches and the sweet performance of Garmin’s recent AMOLED watches.
Furthermore, while it may be tempting for the likes of Polar to long for smartwatch sales akin to Apple’s, the reality for many Wear OS sellers fighting each other for a share of a smaller and less lucrative pie (Android) pales in comparison to Apple’s stranglehold on its pseudo-monopoly.
Fun times ahead!
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