Qualcomm announces new accelerator program in renewed push against Apple Watch


NEW DELHI: Chip giant Qualcomm on Tuesday said it plans to increase investments in its platform for wearables – Snapdragon Wear. The company announced a new Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program, which is supported by over 60 companies involved in the ecosystem. This includes other chip firms, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and origins design firms (ODMs).

Big names like ARM, BBK Electronics, Fossil, Oppo, Vodafone, Verizon, and Zebra are joining the initiative. “The wearables market grew 21% year-over-year and shows no signs of slowing down,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager, Wearable Mobile Device Trackers, at the International Data Corporation (IDC). “Innovative form factors continue to emerge as consumers demand new use cases in wearable devices. The smartwatch segment is going well beyond health and fitness tracking, expanding across consumer and enterprise segments, and further fueling growth of the category,” Ubrani said.

The initiative can be seen as a renewed effort from the Android wearable ecosystem to push back against Apple’s dominance in the industry. The iPhone maker held 36.2% of the market share in Q4, 2020 with 55.6 million shipments of its Apple Watch in the quarter. Xiaomi, Samsung and Huawei followed in the next three spots, with 13.5 million, 13 million and 10.2 million shipments, respectively.

Qualcomm’s programme comes a mere few months after Google and Samsung announced a partnership to merge their wearable software and build a new system. Between Qualcomm’s efforts to bring the industry together, and Google and Samsung joining hands, it looks a lot like the companies are trying to reduce fragmentation in the industry. Apple’s smartwatches, like its iPhones, gain from the close control the tech giant wields on the hardware and software in its ecosystem.

To be clear, it’s unlikely that these companies will completely eliminate fragmentation. After all, the industry still sees one company make the final device, another controlling design, and still more controlling various aspects of hardware, but the initiative could help establish standards that will help achieve better performance in the long run.

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