Facebook's smart watch opens up 'massive gold mine,' if it can overcome privacy concerns

The company is reportedly working on its first-ever smartwatch, for release in mid-2022
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Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

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Facebook might be flicking its wrist into the smartwatch game, with The Verge reporting it hopes to release its first model in the middle of next year.

Facebook will have its work cut out for it in terms of privacy and catching up to market leader Apple...but any time a trillion dollar company enters a new space, it's worth paying attention to.

Feature watch

The smartwatch will reportedly arrive in white, black, and gold and feature a front-facing camera primarily for video calling, while its rear-facing 1080p auto-focus camera will serve to capture footage. Both cameras are detachable.

Working on my fitness: The smartwatch will also reportedly sport a heart rate monitor, and will connect to fitness services like Peloton and Strava via its own 4G connection—standard fare for Apple Watches, and an area of focus for the forthcoming Google-Samsung smartwatches.

FB’s smartwatch hasn’t entered full scale production (or even been given a name), and Facebook hasn’t formally confirmed its existence. The only comment from Facebook came in a tweet from the VP of Facebook Reality Labs Andrew Bosworth, who cryptically noted that a "wrist-based form factor" could help AR experiences feel more natural via haptics.

It was just a matter of time...

“Facebook’s entry into the wearables space is inevitable considering their business model pivots around collecting user profile data and building a richer social or knowledge graph to attract more advertisers,” Neil Shah, VP of research at Counterpoint Research told us. “The wrist is one of the most interesting spaces after the smartphone to gain user’s physiological health and fitness data.”

Facebook does have other hardware in the Oculus virtual reality headset and Portal video calling device, but both account for no more than 3% of its revenue combined.

The competition: Apple reigns supreme over the market with 33.5% of market share in terms of device shipments, per Counterpoint Research. And it’s got new features and designs, like better health sensors, planned for 2022.

  • Huawei (8.4%) and Samsung (8%) are the next biggest smartwatch players.

Looking ahead...the biggest hurdle for Facebook’s smartwatch could end up being its fraught history with data privacy. Compared to Apple’s reputation as a privacy protector, Facebook will have to convince people it can be trusted with sensitive health data, which Shah said is “a massive gold mine for pharmacy, insurance, and healthcare marketers.”

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