Qualcomm announces new accelerator program to crack down on Apple Watch again

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NEW DELHI: Chip giant Qualcomm said Tuesday it plans to increase investment in its wearables platform – Snapdragon Wear. The company announced a new Qualcomm Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program, supported by over 60 companies involved in the ecosystem. This includes other chip companies, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), and Origins Design Companies (ODMs).

Big names like ARM, BBK Electronics, Fossil, Oppo, Vodafone, Verizon and Zebra are joining the initiative. “The wearables market has grown 21% year over year and is showing no signs of slowing,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager, wearable mobile device trackers at International Data Corporation (IDC). Consumers are demanding new use cases for wearable devices. The smartwatch segment goes well beyond health and fitness tracking, expanding into consumer and corporate segments, and continues to fuel the growth of the category, “said Ubrani.

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

Qualcomm’s program comes just months after Google and Samsung announced a partnership to bring their portable software together and develop a new system. Between Qualcomm’s efforts to bring the industry together and Google and Samsung’s collaboration, it seems like the companies are trying to reduce the fragmentation in the industry. Apple’s smartwatches, like its iPhones, benefit from the tight control the tech giant exercises over the hardware and software in its ecosystem.

To be clear, these companies are unlikely to eliminate fragmentation entirely. After all, the industry still sees one company making the final device, another taking control of the design, and even more control over various aspects of the hardware, but the initiative could help establish standards that lead to better performance in the long run.

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