Facebook's smartwatch sounds super dumb

The desperation to sidestep Apple and Google is real.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

It seems that Facebook is working on a smartwatch. And it sounds so hilariously bad that it's hard to believe that it's being given serious consideration.

The Vergehas the details:

"A camera on the front of the watch display exists primarily for video calling, while a 1080p, auto-focus camera on the back can be used for capturing footage when detached from the stainless steel frame on the wrist. Facebook is tapping other companies to create accessories for attaching the camera hub to things like backpacks, according to two people familiar with the project, both of whom requested anonymity to speak without Facebook's permission."

The plan, according to the report, is that Facebook will release this in the summer of 2022 with a price tag of around $400.

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So, this is a watch that has a camera in it, but to use that camera you have to detach it from your wrist before awkwardly holding it up to take snaps. Call me skeptical, but that seems like a lot more headache than, I don't know, pulling a smartphone out of your pocket to do the job.

And that price tag is bold, given that the latest-generation Apple Watch starts at $399, and you can pick up the serviceable Apple Watch 3 for $199.

It feels like Facebook is eager to get into consumer tech again, but smartphones are off the table after the company got burned trying to get a foot in that door back when a partnership with HTC in 2013 ended up with AT&T slashing the price of the Facebook phone from $99 to 99 cents in order to shift stock.

Here, it's reported that Facebook is in talks with wireless carriers to give its smartwatch LTE support, so it can cut ties with having to have a connection to, and an app installed, on a Google or Apple smartphone.

Which brings us to why Facebook wants to have a bit of standalone consumer hardware -- user data.

Apple and Google are tightening up on the way and volume of data that apps collect, as well as giving users the ability to opt-out of increasing amounts of tracking. This is putting a squeeze on companies like Facebook, and stirring interest in sidestepping the restrictions that are being added to Android and iOS.

But a $400 smartwatch that wants to be a camera isn't going to do much to build Facebook a hardware ecosystem that's going to cause executives at Apple or Google to lose sleep.

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