Michael Kors has joined the growing list of brands releasing an Android Wear smartwatch. The prebuilt architecture is proving to be a quick path for new entrants to enter the wearable device market. By using Google’s software and fairly standardized hardware, the primary hurdle for a company to overcome is to simply design a watch case and band. Called MICHAEL KORS ACCESS, the smartwatch is expected to be released in Fall 2016. It will be compatible with both iOS and Android devices and available in both a men’s and women’s version. Predictably, the men’s variety features a black metal face while the women’s is gold with a crystal laden band. They are expected to be priced starting at $395 and will be available most places where you already find Michael Kors products (website, company owned stores, department stores, and specialty retail).
With Android Wear devices, branding is key. Functionally, the smartwatches differ very little. But if you love Fossil or TAG Heuer or Michael Kors (for example), chances are you will be drawn to their unique devices more than a Moto360 Android Wear watch. Between the physical design of the timepiece and customized watch faces, brands have the opportunity to release a piece of technology that strongly communicates their design language. As more and more companies jump onto the wearables bandwagon, the ones that reflect their brand best in the design of the device will be the ones able to find an audience. With how saturated the market is becoming with near identically spec’ed devices, it will be interesting to see if long term any single Android Wear watch can own the market. Until device makers have more flexibility with the hardware and software, we are guessing not.