Project Fennel shelved: Android phone owners – no Apple Watch for you

Apple has cancelled its “Project Fennel” initiative, which was intended to make the Apple Watch compatible with Android devices. Despite the project’s vast market potential with billions of Android users, it is on hold.

As of now, the company’s smartwatch is only compatible with iPhones. This means it will not natively play nice with Android phones. Apple has chosen exclusivity as a strategic move.

A quick overview of Project Fennel

A number of years in the works, Apple’s ambitious “Project Fennel” project aimed at bringing the world of Apple Watch to billions of Android users. For a company known for its closely-knit ecosystem, this was seen a bold change in direction. It wasn’t just about expanding the Apple Watch user base, but also introducing the Android world to Apple Health, a cornerstone of Apple’s health and wellness ecosystem.

Essential readingTop fitness trackers and health gadgets

However, as “Project Fennel” neared completion, Apple’s overarching strategy came into play. According to Bloomberg, the company recently decided it might make more sense to focus on its unique feeling proposition. And that establishing a direct connection to the Android operating system may dilute this strategy.

The rationale for the decision

Launching “Project Fennel” would have undoubtedly broadened Apple’s potential market base, allowing it to tap into billions of Android users. While the immediate revenue from Apple Watch sales to this demographic is obvious, there are other more nuanced economic considerations.

Apple may have faced increased production and supply chain demands, as well as the need for more diverse marketing strategies in order to appeal to the Android audience. The risk of eroding Apple’s exclusivity and potentially reducing iPhone sales may have outweighed any sales gains.

Furthermore, Apple puts lots of focus on creating a seamless user experience. At least it tries. It is for this reason that the flagship wearable is regarded as the best smartwatch on the market. Integrating it with Android would present both software and hardware challenges.

On the software side, it would have been difficult to ensure the smooth operation of Apple-specific features within the diverse Android ecosystem, with its plethora of devices and OS versions. It is challenging enough as it is, as evidenced by battery drain issues experienced by some on the latest version of the Apple Watch software.

Also, hardware issues may potentially arise. For example, there could be connectivity issues between the watch and various Android phone models. Furthermore, Apple would have to consider the diverse range of third-party apps available on Android and their integration with the watch. This would go against the company’s closed software ecosystem.

Last thoughts

Don’t let this decision come as too much of a surprise to you. Belief in Android phone connectivity was always a long-shot.

The Apple Watch serves to strengthen Apple’s ecosystem. Its close connections to health features and other iPhone-centric features make it indispensable for iPhone users, adding layers of value.

Apple has currently halted its “Project Fennel” initiative, putting the possibility of an Android-compatible Apple Watch in limbo. This pause may not be the end, but rather a strategic breather as Apple considers its options and potential paths.

In our mind, if you have a Samsung phone your best bet is to go for the Galaxy Watch. There are a plethora of wearOS devices for those with Android phones. Finally, you can always opt for a Garmin or Fitbit timepiece. Those will work regardless of the operating system your phone is running on.

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Marko Maslakovic

Marko founded Gadgets & Wearables in 2014, having worked for more than 15 years in the City of London’s financial district. Since then, he has led the company’s charge to become a leading information source on health and fitness gadgets and wearables.

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