Fossil will no longer make smartwatches, implies weak market for designer wearables

There was a time when smartwatches were seen as geeky trinkets that had no place on ordinary people’s wrists. It took the success of the Apple Watch and the collaboration of fashion brands to bring this piece of wearable technology to the masses. But while smartwatches have finally found their legs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been a profitable business either. It seems that those brands that have made smartwatches literally fashionable are starting to reconsider their strategies, especially with only a few successful products that are unsurprisingly still dominated by consumer electronics companies. Fossil has apparently decided to just pull the plug and call it quits on the smartwatch market, preferring to focus its resources on the designer products that actually bring in the money.

Designer: Fossil (via The Verge)

When smartwatches first came to the market, it was smartphone manufacturers that took the lead. Compared to the selection we have today, it’s not surprising why most people shied away from having them on their wrists. They were large, clunky, and visually unappealing. And they required charging almost every night.

While the Apple Watch would always be an exception, it took negotiations with brands like Fossil, TAG Heuer, Mont Blanc, and Michael Kors, just to name a few, to really bring smartwatch designs to the same level as traditional timepieces, at least on the outside. To some extent, there was a successful push to turn these pieces of wearable technology into true fashion accessories and, given some of the prices, luxury items. Now smartwatches are more or less more common, but that doesn’t mean the market for the more fashionable smartwatches is actually growing. In fact, you could almost say that the top smartwatch vendors are Apple, Samsung, and Google on the higher end, and Xiaomi, Mobvoi, and smaller manufacturers on the opposite end.

Confirming rumors that were already going around the Internet, Fossil announced that it was exiting the smartwatch business. It was a “strategic decision” and would focus on the “core segments of our business that continue to provide strong growth,” namely traditional watches, jewelry, and leather goods. Reading between the lines, it means that its line of smartwatches isn’t providing that kind of growth and it doesn’t foresee that changing in the future.

This makes the Fossil Gen 6 that was launched in 2021 the last smartwatch the marque will ever make. Fossil does promise to continue supporting its existing smartwatches for the next few years, though it probably really means only one or two years moving forward. Fossil is the first brand to make this big announcement, but it probably won’t be the last as the designer smartwatch market continues to stagnate or even shrink, leaving smartphone manufacturers to take the helm once more.