Saturday , October 21 2017

Why it’s hard to bring new Android Wear to Australia, and what we really want here

There’s been quite a bit said today in the comments, on our social feeds and elsewhere about the apparent decision by LG and/or Google not to bring the two new Android Wear 2.0 watches to Australia. To be fair, neither Google nor LG have said anything concrete on that, but both have denied having plans to bring the new watches here. Whether that means they’ll never come, or they have no plans at present remains to be seen … but I think it’s safe to say they’re not coming in a hurry.

LG aren’t the only ones with a new shiny Android Wear watch or two that isn’t coming to Australia; just the other day we reported on a new watch from ZTE which — for the time being — won’t be coming to the Australian market either.

From what we understand, there’s a couple of reasons why these two watches — the LG Watch Sport and ZTE watch —  in particular won’t be coming to Australia:

  • For one, they’re both cellular watches. This means that — like smartphones — to work here in Australia, they need to support our unique mix of LTE and cellular bands, including the elusive band 28 which isn’t really used anywhere much else except Australia. That means that without expensive re-tooling and changes, the watches won’t support one of the best LTE frequencies we can use. Band 28 which operates at 700 MHz, arising from the shutdown of the analog TV spectrum, is uniquely suited to the Australian geography, and devices which don’t support it will simply not work as well as they could on our two biggest carriers Telstra and Optus.
  • Secondly, we’re a relatively smaller market. Despite a large landmass the same size as northern America, we’ve less than 10% of the population, and of that, very few would be interested in spending hundreds of dollars on a smartwatch. You’d have to imagine that the number of smartwatches sold Australia wide are only going to be measured in thousands, and that’s for the big name brands. Those with less brand recognition or retail presence will struggle.

The question I find myself asking, and which we asked internally today, was do we really need a cellular watch? If we took that out of the equation, then it’s just a question of market demand … and if the production costs are lower, due to not needing unique Australian-specific hardware, then the break even will come at a lower rate of sales.

This makes it a more reasonable proposition to bring new watches here, by sacrificing a feature that few of the few who buy a smartwatch us would ever really use anyway.

What we do want, though, are watches that support Android Pay. Unlike Apple Pay which supports hardly any banks, Android Pay supports a lot of banks, and we want a watch we can use with it. To make this work, we need watches with NFC. It is NFC that will make or break a watch here, rather than cellular.

It just so happens that it’s a lot cheaper to leave cellular out and put NFC in, it makes for a thinner watch that looks better, which means you can stick with more timeless designs than technological monstrosities. Basically its a win, win and win.

To that end, we make our request to the makers of Android Wear watches loud and clear:

Please bring us watches with NFC. We — and likely, many others — don’t care about cellular, we don’t need watches that are an inch thick, we just have a simple request. Bring us a nice looking watch that won’t look dated in twelve months, put Android Wear 2.0 and NFC in it, and we the Australian tech community will buy an awful lot of them.

Who’s with me?

 

Chris Rowland   Editor and Publisher

Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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18 Comments on "Why it’s hard to bring new Android Wear to Australia, and what we really want here"

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Andy Robb
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Andy Robb

By the way for a SIM version who cares about LTE on a watch…3G would be more than sufficient for the meagre needs of these small device…hence LG Sport is shaping up as my next watch…

Andy Robb
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Andy Robb
For the most part I agree. But as a cyclist it would be great to be able to leave my phone at home when on rides and know that the device on my wrist was available to make/receive calls and texts in event of a mechanical or other emergency. Combined with built in android pay so my wallet can stay at home, and that device would be a game changer for me. I’ll see what hits the market in the coming months, but the LG Sport is exactly the device I want right now – even with no number sync… Read more »
Member

Yep, well said. NFC and a speaker/microphone. I still want to take calls on it, but just as a Bluetooth handset.
Like Huawei watch.
Same goes for you Samsung. Strip out Lee and drop the price of the frontier by 150 here in aus.

Murray
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Murray

Agreed. I’m very happy with my LG Urbane, but LTE and NFC would be great!

BeauGiles
Valued Guest

“Unlike Apple Pay which supports hardly any banks, Android Pay supports a lot of banks, and we want a watch we can use with it.”

Hardly any banks? Both have ANZ, most of the Cuscal groups, and ING & Macquarie have announced they’ll be on Apple Pay by the end of the month.

The only banks Android Pay has that Apple Pay doesn’t is Westpac (and even then they only have a handful of MasterCard cards), Bendigo and Bankwest.

Three banks is hardly a difference between ‘hardly any’ and ‘a lot’ of banks!

Chris
Valued Guest

Considering that Android Pay has had a huge list of banks for months and months, and Apple Pay is only new to the party, I’m going to call Android Pay the more widely compatible and available service Beau 😉

That, and Bankwest, Bendigo and Westpac are kind of large banks that Apple doesn’t support.

Jason Grima
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Jason Grima
I’m not convinced. Give us NFC so we can paypass with our watches! So…we don’t have to paypass with our phones…? Of course, if the watches don’t have LTE, we’re gonna have to carry our phones anyway, for all the other reasons we carry phones. If the watches don’t have GPS, then the phone needs to go with the runners and cyclist (etc) anyway. The way I see it, there’s basically 3 smartwatch users: 1) tech geeks, who just love tech 2) sporty types, who relish the thought of having all their tracking without carrying their phones (it’s not awesome… Read more »
Member
I’m stuck in the middle between this and OP’s views. I don’t need another sim card (especially since most telcos are greedy enough to charge extra to use the same credit/data on a second sim) but I do want my watch to track my exercise without my phone on me. Surely there’s a way to design apps to do this with a GPS but no LTE? Use GPS and HRM to store fitness data on the watch for a workout, sync it back to the phone (and the cloud) when it’s back in reach. I can’t understand why there isn’t… Read more »
Member

I use an old mobile to track my running, as it’s smaller and fits better in an arm band, and it does exactly what you talk about. No SIM card installed, so it’s pure GPS tracking, then upload to the cloud when connected to WiFi. Shouldn’t be that hard for a watch to do the same.

montalbert_scott
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montalbert_scott

I have to add my voice to this discussion I think. I agree with everyone totally. I do NOT want another SIM. I do not want another bill to pay. I cannot ever see a situation where i want LTE on my watch. I want a well designed (I hardly consider the LG Style stylish) watch — such as the huawei watch — with NFC and thats it. WE DO NOT NEED LTE ON A WATCH!!

Member

Agreed. I’m still more than happy with my LG Urbane, but would upgrade at the drop of a hat to another silver watch with NFC support. Here’s hoping some of the Fossil (or its subsidiaries) watches coming out this year suit my need.

Member

+1,000,000!
i dont understand why they keep insisting on crippling low battery devices with LTE!?!

its MEANT to be an accessory to the phone/tablet, not a bloody stand alone wrist computer!

Member

Sign me up or “shut up and take my money”

Tango India Mike
Valued Guest
Tango India Mike

Spot on Chris….couldn’t care less about cellular. Strip it out and bring the watch in at a lower price….with NFC!

TheCatMan
Valued Guest
TheCatMan

plus GPS

Member

I absolutely support this position. I don’t want cellular connectivity in a watch (especially given reports that it drastically reduces battery life).

Though I’d add that I’d like GPS functionality as well, for tracking my walks, as long as it could be turned off when not explicitly needed.

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

HR tracking is a nice extra

Duncan_J
Valued Guest
Duncan_J

I good sir stand by your side, give me Android Wear 2.0, NFC, an always on display, all day + batery life – all in a thin stylish package with easily replacable bands! I have over $740 AUD waiting for this device!

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