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Google agrees to pay US$40 million for Fossil’s smartwatch technology


The Google logo is displayed at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California, on Sept. 2, 2015.

Photo: AFP

Alphabet Inc’s Google has agreed to pay US$40 million for the smartwatch technology of Fossil Group Inc, the companies said on Thursday, enabling the California technology giant to expand in the growing wearable tech market.

As part of the deal, the Texas-based fashion and accessory group’s research and development team working on the smartwatch is to join Google, which is also to acquire the intellectual property for Fossil smartwatches, the firms said.

The move would give Google the potential to create its own branded smartwatches to compete against Apple Inc, Fitbit Inc and others in the wearable tech space.

“Wearables, built for wellness, simplicity, personalization and helpfulness, have the opportunity to improve lives by bringing users the information and insights they need quickly, at a glance,” Google Wear OS division vice president Stacey Burr said. “The addition of Fossil Group’s technology and team to Google demonstrates our commitment to the wearables industry by enabling a diverse portfolio of smartwatches and supporting the ever-evolving needs of the vitality-seeking, on-the-go consumer.”

“We’ve built and advanced a technology that has the potential to improve upon our existing platform of smartwatches. Together with Google, our innovation partner, we’ll continue to unlock growth in wearables,” Fossil Group chief strategy and digital officer Greg McKelvey said.

Fossil moved into smartwatches in 2015 with a US$260 million acquisition of Misfit, a tech platform created by former Microsoft Corp researcher Sonny Vu and former Apple chief executive John Sculley.

Research firm IDC Corp estimates that global shipments of wearable devices would hit 125.3 million units last year, up 8.5 percent from 2017, and that the market would grow 11 percent through 2022 as a result of the growing popularity of smartwatches and greater wearables adoption in emerging markets.

In separate news, Google plans to buy power from Tennessee and Alabama solar farms under a deal with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Google on Wednesday announced that it would buy 413 megawatts of output from 1.6 million solar panels at several new Tennessee and Alabama solar farms with the combined size of 65,000 home rooftop systems.

The two largest would be able to produce about 150 megawatts each in Hollywood, Alabama and Yum Yum, Tennessee.

Google is building data centers in Clarksville, Tennessee, and Jackson County, Alabama.

The company plans to match 72 percent of the facilities’ hourly electricity use with carbon-free sources, supporting its goal of sourcing carbon-free electricity around the clock.

Additional reporting by AP

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