At CES, MediaTek announced its new MT2601 chip, targeting wearables that support Google's Android Wear platform. According to the company, this will give device makers a complete solution to implement their own hardware and software.
The MT2601 SoC has 41.5 percent fewer components than other solutions on the market, which gives it an advantage over competitors thanks to a correspondingly lower price tag. By not taking an existing smartphone chip, and simply modifying it, MediaTek could manage to create a more affordable and compelling solution for its wearable OEM customers.
“The MT2601 has an incredibly small die size and is highly optimized for cost and power performance. The platform solution, comprised of MT2601 integrated with Android Wear software, will fuel the maker revolution and empower the application developer community worldwide to create a broad range of innovative applications and services." — J.C. Hsu, General Manager of New Business Development, MediaTek
The MT2601 has a dual-core Cortex A7 CPU, Mali-400 MP1 GPU, supports qHD resolutions (960x540, which is more than enough for a smartwatch screen) and interfaces with a multitude of external sensors. MediaTek also pledges to continue to support Android Wear in the future, and to evolve its chip along with Google's platform. The MT2601 is already available to OEMs and can be integrated into wearables right now.
Wearables are currently seen as the "next big thing" after smartphones by many companies in the tech industry, from chip makers to device manufacturers to software and services vendors, and they all seem willing to invest money in products for this market.
Android Wear has only been around for less than a year, so it's still too early to tell how big this market and Android Wear itself will get. Vendors are still trying to determine what the best size, design, feature set and price for these device are.
The Apple Watch, Android Wear's most high-profile platform competitor, has yet to come out as well. Many consider it the litmus test for the overall survival of this market. Only time will tell whether this product category will see a boom over the next few years, or whether it will be considered a passing fad. The results will probably become most clear over the next two years.