LG Watch Urbane 2nd Ed. LTE “cancellation”—more questions than answers

Even Dick T. had trouble with his wrist-mounted gizmo

The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE rollout has been canceled, due to a mysterious “hardware issue.” It was only just released last week, so this looks bad—although it’s possible the smartwatch may make it back onto shelves “in the future.”

So here’s the obvious question: What’s wrong with it? Well, there are two main theories circulating.

Aside from the ideas of doom and boom, it turns out that the devices aren’t actually carrier-locked. No wonder AT&T and Verizon have stopped selling them.

Whatever, it’s bad news for Google, too—not just for LG. This device was to be the first of the new breed of Android Wear devices that could make calls and use cellular data without the need for a paired phone.

In IT Blogwatch, bloggers prognosticate and theorize. Not to mention: Sooner or Later...

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment.
[Developing story: Updated 4:28 am and 11:24 am PST with more comment]

It all started when the Deathstar gave up on the product. Chance Miller has this—AT&T offering...customers a refund due to unidentified ‘quality issue’:

According to sources, AT&T has notified its retail stores and customers that those who purchased the latest Watch Urbane are eligible for a refund.

According to our sources, the issue relates to a hardware problem that directly affects the day-to-day functionality.

The Watch Urbane 2...is the first device to take advantage of the recently added support for LTE in Android Wear.

Oops. What do LG and Google have to say for themselves? Here’s Steven “meta” Musil, with LG shelves Urbane Second Edition smartwatch due to hardware issue:

LG has stopped taking orders...a little more than a week after the Android wearable went on sale.

"Late in the quality assurance process for the LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, our engineers were made aware of a hardware issue which affects the day-to-day functionality,"...the company said in a statement. ... "The decision was made to cancel the rollout. ... Whether the device will be available in the future will be decided...later."

[It] is also a setback...for Google. The smartwatch was touted as the first...on Google's Android Wear software to feature cellular connectivity built in.

Setback for la GOOG? Indeed so. In fact, Jon Russell leaves his stronger opinion, in The First Android Wear Smartwatch With Cellular, Pulled From Stores:

This is a major setback for both LG and Google.

This episode isn’t exactly the ringing endorsement that both companies will have hoped for.

So it might reappear? Brad Linder quibbles at PR semantics—The first Android Wear watch with cellular capabilities is canceled… at least for now:

It’s not entirely clear if the watch has been permanently canceled or just delayed… but LG is using the word “canceled”.

It’s not clear exactly what hardware problems led LG to scrap the launch plans for the watch.

Unsurprisingly, it’s not just AT&T. Sean Dudley says it’s also "Oh Hold" on Verizon:

Unfortunately, it seems that the roll out is "On Hold" for some reason unknown to the Verizon associates. The watches aren't shipping to those who pre-ordered...and they aren't showing up at the stores.

Anyone have any knowledge of what the hold up is, and when we might expect to actually be able to get the watch?

So let the theorizing begin! Uncle Buck has the most interesting idea:

I think that the carriers are probably pissed that the devices are...NOT CARRIER LOCKED!

I purchased mine from an AT&T store last night. ... I opened the box, took out the watch, powered it up, paired it up with...my Nexus 6, sync all of my wear apps, power it down, take out the AT&T SIM, pop in my T-Mobile SIM, power it on, and...connect to T-Mobile with full call functionality and HSPA. ... And I could make and receive calls on the watch with a regular T-mobile SIM...not a wearables SIM.

I can see why AT&T may have been a little pissy over...customers purchasing from them and using the device on another network.

Interesting, but not as crazy as this other theory. Cameron Summerson worries about losing his hand:

I have this on my wrist right now. A little info about whether or not it's going to blow up would be nice.

Update 1: LG is happy to oblige. Rock me, Ron Amadeo—LG cancels smartwatch after just six days:

The company hasn't gone into detail...but we were told that there was "No danger to the user," and "There are no safety issues or concerns with the product."

The watch has been on sale for about six days. ... Today, the online listings from both carriers are gone. [It] also seems to be scrubbed from LG's site.

Update 2: Tom Dawson calls it the “story of the week.” Here’s his conspiracy-laden column—Watch Urbane LTE Cancelled Indefinitely?:

The name was never that catchy, but cancelling it altogether, c’mon LG.

Whether or not this means that LG will be producing another device running Android Wear with LTE functionality is unclear, but this has to be a source of embarrassment for the South Korean firm.

[It] has me wondering whether or not Google had something to do with the sudden shutdown. ... This is LG we’re talking about...we’re sure LG did their testing thoroughly enough.

Could Google have shut things down? ... After all Google is adamant these are an extension of your smartphone, not a replacement [but] the LTE Watch Urbane...comes dangerously close.

I am, of course, speculating wildly here.

And Finally...

Dick Tracy and Madge

You have been reading IT Blogwatch by Richi Jennings, who curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites… so you don’t have to. Catch the key commentary from around the Web every morning. Hatemail may be directed to @RiCHi or itbw@richi.uk.
Opinions expressed may not represent those of Computerworld. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

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