Google takes on Apple in the race to a smartwatch, says WSJ

Smartwatch would connect to a user's smartphone using Bluetooth

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is developing a smartwatch based on the Android operating system to compete with Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) rumored iWatch, according to people familiar with the search giant's plans consulted by the Wall Street Journal.

The smartwatch would connect to a user's smartphone using Bluetooth technology, according to the report.

Samsung has already confirmed that its plans to develop an Android-based smartwatch. Rumors about a possible Samsung smartwatch began circulating in February when someone leaked screenshots of an alleged prototype of the smartwatch called Altius.

Rumors about a Google smartwatch were reported earlier this year by eWeek. Google filed a U.S. patent application last year for a device that would include a wristband, base, and "flip-up" portion that included a display that could be viewed whether it was open or closed, the report related.

Research firm ABI Research predicted that more than 1.2 million smartwatches would be shipped this year. ABI said that in addition to Apple and Samsung, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is expected to launch a smartwatch this year. Italian smartwatch maker I'm Watch is already offering a standalone smartwatch.

"The strong potential emergence of smart watches can be attributed to several reasons. Contributing factors include the high penetration of smartphones in many world markets, the wide availability and low cost of MEMS sensors, energy efficient connectivity technologies such as Bluetooth 4.0, and a flourishing app ecosystem," commented ABI senior analyst Joshua Flood.

ABI divides the smartwatch market into four categories: notification types, voice operational smartwatches, hybrid smartwatches, and standalone smartwatches.

Notification type devices, such as MetaWatch and Cookoo smartwatches, offer alerts for incoming calls, messages and other notifications. Voice operational smartwatches, such as one made by Martian, enable users to conduct calls and issue voice commands via the device, the research firm noted.

Flood cautioned that "smartwatches that replicate the functionality of a mobile handset or smartphone are not yet commercially feasible, though the technologies are certainly being prepared."

For more:
- read the Wall Street Journal report
- check out the ABI release
- see the eWeek report

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