Facebook might have an Apple Watch rival in the works: Modular design, $400 price tag
Facebook is reportedly planning to release a smartwatch sometime in the summer of '22 and has already invested nearly a billion dollars to help the effort. The reported price tag is around $400, which pits it directly against the most successful range of smartwatches right now, the multiple generations of the Apple Watch. The Verge reports that the Facebook Watch will be a stainless steel wearable with a modular design and feature a detachable display with dual cameras for capturing content to Facebook or Instagram.
The main reason behind the smartwatch is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's desire to find a way around Apple and Google's tight grasp on consumer platforms. After all, iOS and Android combined own almost all of the market that Facebook has interest in.
Facebook Watch - what we know so far
As mentioned already, the watch will likely be a stainless steel one, available in black, white, and gold colors. It will be running a forked Android, with a companion app available for both iOS and Android phones. The main module of the smartwatch will detach from the strap and will house a front-facing camera for video calls, while the main camera will shoot 1080p and feature autofocus.
The idea is clear - the social network surely hopes people will use its upcoming wearable for content creation even if they have their phones on them all the time. Thanks to a heart rate monitor, the smartwatch will work as a fitness band too.
Facebook is rumored to be in talks with the major carriers in the US to support LTE connectivity on the Facebook watch and be a standalone device. Otherwise, the point of the detachable display/camera module would quickly evaporate.
What's more, Facebook reportedly wants other companies to develop third-party accessories for the smartwatch, making it more of a platform rather than a one-time stint. One use case suggests an add-on accessory that would let you strap the camera-clad display onto a backpack or another piece of clothing and use it as a GoPro of sorts.
Modular smartwatches are nothing new, but we are yet to see a successful one. The majority of announced wearables that involved any kind of modular features have promptly joined the Kickstarter graveyard. Surely, none of them had the huge financial prowess of Facebook backing them up, but then again, it would be quite hard for Zuckerberg's company to make its upcoming watch a desirable buy.
This isn't Facebook's first rodeo
As some of you probably remember, Facebook has dabbed into consumer hardware before. Yes, it hasn't released a smartwatch yet, but nearly a decade ago, in 2013, it released a Facebook branded phone in collaboration with HTC and sold exclusively by AT&T. The so-called HTC First, but widely regarded as the Facebook phone, was a nearly stock Android phone with Facebook's Home interface running on top. However, the HTC First turned out to be massive flop as it lacked any redeeming features whatsoever.
Nine years later, Facebook is trying to open another front in the ongoing privacy war against Apple, where Cupertino is trying to limit the amount of user data Facebook gets for advertising purposes. With Facebook being labeled "the bad guy" in contrast with Apple taking the white knight mantle, it would be hard to go head-to-head with the massively successful Apple Watch, especially considering they could be priced similarly.
Facebook seemingly hopes to sell a couple hundred thousand units of the smartwatch, which is quite humbling given Apple Watch's nearly 34 million sales in 2020 alone. The rumor mill has it that the broad strokes for a second and even third generation of Facebook's smartwatch have already been laid out.
So, what's the verdict? Would you buy one?