Emphasizing fashion over functionality, Google today announced the MODE interchangeable and colorful, silicon and leather smartwatch straps—a sign that Android Wear smartwatch growth will come from making Android Wear more fashionable.
Early Android Wear smartwatches, circa 2014, such as the Samsung Gear Live and the LG G Watch stressed functionality over style and form. These were prototypes to seed developers with a software platform they could use to begin to build apps and were for enthusiasts to begin to use and understand the smartwatch category.
Many consumers, however, complained Android Wear watches didn’t match their expectations of what watches should look like. After all, a watch is a fashion statement first, a time piece second and app platform third. And so Android Wear watches began to subtly change, with Motorola’s Moto 360 winning praise for its round design over the Apple Watch and the round Huawei watch acting as Google’s de facto Nexus smartwatch.
More recently Android Wear made it to the watch and jewelry fashion’s center stage at Switzerland’s Baselworld where TAG Heuer introduced the $3,000 Android Wear Connected smartwatch, and other lower-priced brands Nixon, Fossil and Michael Kors made smartwatch fashion statements.
And the market for smartwatches is growing. It’s estimated that by 2020, smartwatches will make up about a quarter of all the 1.2 billion wrist watches sold every year. IDC projects smartwatch shipments to grow at a 31 percent CGR to 285 million by 2020, with Android and Android Wear watches accounting for 47 percent of the total shipments.
How the MODE strap works
Here’s how the MODE interchangeable strap works:
The MODE design and name is free to use for all OEMs and/or accessory makers to adopt as long as they source the MODE mechanism from Google authorized vendors, pass reliability testing and follow Google brand guidelines.
Switching a strap from leather to silicon for the gym or to change color to accessorize to match an outfit may seem like a small feature, but this five-minute video on how to change a watchstrap makes a point to the contrary.