Facebook watch that likely won’t be called the Facebook Watch will hit the market sometime next year, The Information reports (paywall, h/t The Verge). As part of the company’s push into hardware, the watch will be Android-based, but it’s unknown whether it will use Google's Wear OS. In a market where Apple dominates and major players have their own footholds domestically and abroad, the new watch could be dead on arrival.
What to expect — The watch will support some table-stakes features regarding messaging, health, and fitness while likely relying on Facebook’s suite of social platforms. Peloton, in particular, was namechecked for possible integration. We have to wonder if the data it collects will be even more intrusive than Amazon's body-shaming Halo fitness tracker.
Despite being Android-based, the smartwatch may eventually run on a homebrewed operating system Facebook is working on for its growing hardware arsenal. The watch joins the Facebook Reality Labs’s Oculus headsets and upcoming AR Ray-Bans.
Who would buy this? — Smartwatches pull quite a lot of personal data, and Facebook’s reputation in that department is far from pristine. Somehow, the company seems blissfully unaware that the general public will likely resist handing over more data to it. Or it's simply pretending not to care, as it did when it launched its Portal smart displays. Combined with the uphill battle it will have to wage against other big tech companies, this watch may be a lofty, out-of-touch goal.
While Apple decimates the competition globally, the companies battling each other for second place are far from small. Facebook would enter the market against Samsung, Google Fit and its recent acquisition Fitbit, and China's Huawei and Xiaomi.
At this point, Facebook has generally bought its way into the hardware conversation, which Google and Microsoft can attest to being a risky strategy. This time, it seems to be building a product from scratch when it doesn’t have a strong delivery history, even with a significant partnership.
For Facebook, this may be a risk worth taking as it tries to escape from under Apple and Google’s thumbs. This thirst for freedom and its own vertically integrated monopoly, however, flies in the face of the government’s interest in breaking the company apart. If it’s going to have to go home, it seems like Facebook at least wants to try and go big first.