Ring! Ring! Dick Tracy called
and he wants his watch back
Fossil Inc., a Richardson-based watch and accessories maker, has remodeled the exterior and interior of its stores, including this one at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco.
Google launched Android Wear on Tuesday, an operating system for wearable technology that it’s planning to put on watches first.
The company named Fossil Group Inc. its first fashion brand to participate in the new project.
Richardson-based Fossil said the partnership is still in the formative research and development stage.
“We are committed to playing an active role in the push toward wearable technology and helping to shape the fusion of fashion and technology,” said Greg McKelvey, Fossil’s chief strategy and marketing officer.
Fossil has global annual sales of $3.3 billion from its fashion accessories business and a portfolio of top brands that it owns and licenses including Michele and Michael Kors. Its U.S. market share in fashion watches is more than 40 percent.
“We believe we are uniquely positioned to develop and bring to market products for our fashion customers that marry the beauty of our designs, the promise of our brands and now the function of new technology,” McKelvey said.
Google is asking its existing Android app developers to adapt their tools to wearable experiences that are now possible with advances made in mobile technology.
Google described some of the functions it expects Android Wear watches to perform in a preview video. It’s expecting many of the functions that are now on Android phones to transfer to the smart watch.
The watch in the video responded to voice commands such as asking for the score of a college basketball game in progress or the address of the nearest toy store. It also had calendars, maps and instant messaging. Android Wear is expected to be health- and fitness-focused. As a woman in the video ran to catch a flight, the phone flashed how many calories she just burned.
Google said it’s already working with several consumer electronics manufacturers, including Asus, HTC, LG, Motorola and Samsung; chip makers Broadcom, Imagination, Intel, Mediatek and Qualcomm; and fashion brands such as Fossil to bring watches powered by Android Wear to stores later this year.
In the early 2000s, Fossil made a few smart watches, but it canned the products after critics called them bulky and unsophisticated. The watches ran on Microsoft software.
In February, when Fossil reported better-than-expected fourth-quarter results, CEO Kosta Kartsotis said the company was “in a dialogue with tech companies” about making smart watches.
“Anything that attracts attention to the wrist is good for us, particularly with a whole generation that doesn’t wear watches,” Kartsotis said.
Android is a good match for Fossil, which generates half its annual sales overseas. Worldwide, including in the U.S., Android dominates the market in smartphones and tablets over Apple’s iOS mobile operating system.
Fossil also makes apparel and other wearables that might get smart technology later, including jewelry and handbags.
Analysts and investors were glad that Fossil is jumping into smart watch development in case they take off with consumers and start to displace traditional watches. Fossil’s stock gained $5.20, or 4.6 percent, to close at $118.04 a share on Tuesday.