Google's new Pixel Watch faces hurdles with economy, no iPhone support

A view of the main lobby of building BV200, during a tour of Google's new Bay View Campus in Mountain View, California, U.S. May 16, 2022. Picture taken May 16, 2022. REUTERS/Peter DaSilva

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) - Google's debut smartwatch will go on sale Oct. 13 for $350, the Alphabet Inc unit said on Thursday, taking on a field dominated by Apple Watch at a time when inflation-hammered consumers are shunning all forms of pricey wearables.

At $100 more than Apple Inc's lowest-cost model and limited to people with Android phones, the Google Pixel Watch faces enormous obstacles to adoption, market analysts say. Even sales of the Apple Watch have slipped this year as consumers delay purchases or select cheaper rivals.

"The market is not as robust as it once was," said Jitesh Ubrani, a research manager at market intelligence firm IDC, adding that aggressive discounting will be crucial to Google.

Google apps already work with watches from companies including Apple, Samsung Electronics Co and Fitbit, which Google bought last year and whose devices are known for tracking personal health.

The new round-faced Pixel Watch, made from stainless steel and glass with dozens of wristband options, enables contactless payments, music control and turn-by-turn directions. A model with cellular connectivity costs $50 more.

The watches will be sold in the United States and several other countries. They will not pair with iPhones because Apple gives its own watches exclusive access to messaging and other important features users would want, said Sandeep Waraich, a Google director of product management.

Hardware sales are a growing part of Google's sales, with benefits also coming through more opportunities to sell ads and services subscriptions.

Google also said its latest smartphones would go on sale in 17 countries starting Oct. 13. They include a $599 Pixel 7 with a 6.3-inch display and a shinier $899 7 Pro with a 6.7-inch display, further camera zoom and additional RAM.

Though a small player in smartphones overall, Google's sales are accelerating. It shipped 3 million phones in the first half of this year, up 131% on a year ago, according to tracking company Canalys.

(Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Peter Henderson and Richard Pullin)

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