Samsung Confirms Android ‘Galaxy Gear’ Smartwatch

by Matt Klassen on August 28, 2013

For several months now Samsung has been rumoured to be developing an Android-powered smartwatch, but it wasn’t until yesterday that such speculation had been confirmed by the Korean tech giant. In an interview with Korea Times, Samsung’s executive vice president of mobile Lee Young-hee said the company plans to unveil a smartwatch by September 4th, a date that will almost certainly pre-empt Apple’s unveiling of its iWatch project.

While several smaller firms have already rushed prototype smartwatches to market, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the anticipated smartwatch market won’t see any interest until Samsung and Apple produce their own respective offerings, likely followed by an explosion in consumer attention.

But while Samsung is confident it will beat Apple to the smartwatch punch, the language Lee used in the interview leaves plenty of room for ambiguity, stating that the company’s new “Galaxy Gear” smartwatch will be a “concept device,” leading many to question when it will actually hit the open market.

Strange as it may sound, even before the dawning of this new technological epoch, analysts are speculating just how large this new mobile phenomenon will become. While certainly not earth-shattering numbers, Juniper Research estimates that by 2018 mobile smartwatch shipments will have jumped from 1 million (this year) to 36 million, an upward trend that will likely continue to progress beyond that.

As mentioned, according to the Korea Times interview, the new ‘Galaxy Gear’ smartwatch is a “wearable concept device,” aimed primarily at ‘young trendsetters,’ meaning that even if it is ready for launch shortly after its September 4th unveiling, Samsung already knows it’ll only appeal to a small segment of the population.

Further, the ‘Galaxy Gear’ smartwatch will not sport Samsung’s own flexible display, likely due to the fact that such technology is still in its infancy and Samsung simply can’t wait until its ready to enter the wearable technology market (although one might think Microsoft may employ such a late-comer strategy).

Finally, in describing the smartwatch, Lee mentioned the ‘Galaxy Gear’ device will ‘enhance’ and ‘enrich’ the smartphone experience, lending credence to recent speculation that Samsung’s smartwatch would be more of a tertiary tech accessory, rather than something that stands apart from a smartphone.

But given the haphazard nature of the birth of wearable technology, with companies unsure of whether to release companion devices or standalone products, I have to wonder if any of the companies involved in the dawning of this wearable tech epoch have attempted to define the genre before bringing their products to market. But of course such definition would mean that the current crop of tech giants has the ability to innovate, something I question on a daily basis.

Consider this, before the dawn of the smartphone age Apple’s Steve Jobs had a vision for the future of mobile technology. He observed consumer behaviour, he listened to what people might want to use, and he then defined an entire tech genre by delivering the first iPhone. He didn’t just create a smartphone, he created one that spoke to the consumer on a variety of emotional and practical levels, and then showed them how they couldn’t live without it.

It’s the sort of development and marketing the wearable technology genre will need to be successful, but I have the feeling such foresight will largely be absent from the smartwatch as companies clamour to get something, anything, to market.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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