Qualcomm faced some online criticism in recent days after Ron Amadeo of Ars Technica accused the company of getting Android Wear “killed” by remaining uninterested in releasing a successor to the Snapdragon Wear 2100 system-on-chip which officially launched exactly two years ago. Despite entering its third year of commercial availability, the Snapdragon Wear 2100 remains the most capable wearable chip available to manufacturers of Android Wear-powered smartwatches, with the tech blogger claiming that state of affairs is crippling the industry due to Qualcomm’s monopoly in the wearable segment. The critic argued Qualcomm’s apathy toward smartwatches is forcing original equipment manufacturers into delivering gadgets powered by a chip built on the 28nm process from 2013 in 2018, adding that the Snapdragon Wear 2100 wasn’t a state-of-the-art solution even when it was brand new.
By not following up on its old piece of silicon, Qualcomm is directly preventing the Android Wear ecosystem from growing and maturing, thus not addressing the most common complaints with such wearable devices like their battery life, design, and general performance. The column polarized tech enthusiasts frequenting social media, with many of them joining Mr. Amadeo in his criticism of Qualcomm on platforms such as Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook, whereas a significant portion of people also came out either in defense of the chipmaker or shifted the majority of the blame for the current state of Android Wear to Google. Originally introduced in early 2014, Android Wear received only two truly major iterations in nearly four years and there’s currently no indication of another significant upgrade being close to launch, with many interpreting that inconsistent development pattern as a lack of a long-term strategy on Google’s part, especially since Android Wear as a whole is much more closed than Android is.
While some industry watchers have been expecting the Alphabet-owned company to lead by example and release a first-party Android Wear smartwatch, possibly as a Pixel-branded product, the firm has yet to give any indication of such a product being in the works. Many critics of the Android Wear ecosystem are also focusing on its overall software experience, claiming no amount of more powerful hardware will make the operating system more intuitive and less buggy if Google doesn’t begin dedicating more resources to developing it. As suggested by Broadcom’s M&A track record, Qualcomm is likely to officially exit the wearable segment if it ends up merging with the tech giant in the future as it may be restructured to focus on its core business such as smartphone chips and (5G) modems.