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article imageASUS to abandon Android Wear because nobody wants smartwatches

By James Walker     May 15, 2017 in Technology
Another major smartwatch manufacturer could leave Google's struggling Android Wear platform. ASUS has been one of only a handful of brands to see relative success in the market. It is now pulling out after facing sales of just a few thousand each month.
ASUS is still undecided on whether to continue production or execute a strategic retreat from the market. According to Digitimes, the company has experienced "lower than expected" sales of its products and is very likely to discontinue its ZenWatch brand this year.
Across the entire ZenWatch family, sales are said to number between 5,000 and 6,000 units each month, the equivalent of around 20,000 during a quarter. For comparison's sake, Apple sold 3.5 million Apple Watches during the first quarter of 2017.
ASUS hasn't publicly confirmed its plans. Digitimes has a variable track record on this kind of report but its credibility is aided by the general state of the Android ecosystem. Despite being well reviewed by journalists, ASUS' latest ZenWatch 3 has failed to attract consumers. The wider smartwatch industry is continuing to stagnate and go into decline.
Earlier this year, Google launched its revitalised Android Wear 2.0 platform, intending it to mark the rebirth of wearables. In practice, the heavily delayed upgrade has had little impact. Google even reversed some of the radical changes introduced in the 2.0 betas, leaving Wear's core interface and basic interaction model largely the same as before.
While the work underneath is more meaningful, the faster apps, cellular data and onscreen keyboard don't hold enough weight to convince smartwatch sceptics to try the platform. With only a few watches available with the new OS, Google's attempt at rebooting its smartwatch platform hasn't yet seen great success.
In recent months, former Android Wear headline brands have abandoned the platform, either pulling out of smartwatches altogether or moving to their own operating systems. Samsung now relies on its in-house Tizen platform for all its wearable products.
The decision was down to a combination of Android Wear's low momentum and the company's desire to reduce its external dependencies. With smartwatches, manufacturers have proven more reluctant to place the same reliance on Google that they did with smartphones.
Motorola has also withdrawn its support for Android Wear in a significant blow to the platform. Motorola's Moto line of watches was one of the most popular and well-known ranges available. The company has now indefinitely postponed any future device launches due to lack of demand.
In a final show of scepticism from industry members, one of Huawei's rotating CEOs recently said he "hasn't figured out" why we need smartwatches. The company is also one of Android Wear's best-known supporters. With its CEO now voicing the thoughts of consumers, it's becoming clear the smartwatch market isn’t what Google is presenting it as. With ASUS set to bow out this year, the question now turns to who will be following it.
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