Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Samsung reveals smart watch development project

Samsung's mobile tech vice president Lee Young Hee has confirmed the South Korean firm is working on its own version of a smart watch.

The smartphone and tablet maker, well-known rival of Apple, has only just released the details of its new flagship phone the Galaxy S4, and now Lee has revealed the development of wearable technology by the company. In an interview with Bloomberg, the VP commented:

"We've been preparing the watch product for so long. We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them."

Although Lee was unwilling to reveal any specific details concerning features, price or a sales timeline, wearable technology including wristwatches have recently been present in the media.

This year, there have been plenty of rumors floating around that iPad and iPhone maker Apple was secretly developing their own watch — dubbed "iWatch" by the media — and that over 100 designers were currently working on the project.

Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen said that as the global watch market is worth $60 billion a year, if Apple managed to secure ten percent of the market, it would "be a $6 billion opportunity for Apple." Profit margins could be close to $3.6 billion, and it is possible the watch may be introduced as early as this year.

As companies including Samsung and Apple continue to compete and the smartphone and tablet market reaches saturation levels, new product lines have to be forged to remain competitive. Slowing demand in handsets has resulted in the expectation that growth will decline from 27 percent in 2013 to just 9.8 percent in 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg — and wearable technology, which Qualcomm's CEO believes is the future of mobile devices, could potentially make up the loss.

As Lee commented within the interview, the deciding factor may not be which firm gets there first, but how the opportunity wearable gadgets presents is monetized:

"The issue here is who will first commercialize it so consumers can use it meaningfully."

This post originally appeared on ZDNet.

On the other hand:

Why an Apple iWatch?

When I think of an iWatch, I keep coming back to the question: Is this a good idea? If so, why? I asked a couple of Apple experts, Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, andcuriousrat.com's Harry Marks to weigh in with their thoughts.

"If Apple makes an iWatch - and I don't think it's imminent, meaning this year - it will be positioned as an accessory to iPhone, iPad, and Mac," said Bajarin. "That is the real opportunity: to add to the strength of the ecosystem and the 'works better together' solution."

"Many smart watches are doing baseline things like body monitor and sensors, which [an iWatch] may have," he said. "But I think the biggest opportunity is for glanceable data. Things like: when an email comes in, a phone call that just came in, etc. I can see this as a strong conduit for notifications. This way the watch becomes a visual display for glanceable info. [The iWatch] may not be where you read or answer an email, text, or phone call, but you can use it to decide whether or not you want to need to get your phone out and respond."

Even that might not be enough for some users, among them Marks. His main concern: Would an iWatch be useful enough to entice buyers to plunk down their money?

"If Apple did release a watch, it would take quite a bit for me to be interested," Marks said. "It would have to have all day battery life; FitBit technology; GPS; Bluetooth support for headphones; ample storage for music; a logical and efficient way to respond to messages without using voice and without requiring me to pull out my phone; interchangeable bands; and must cost no more than $150. Any more than that and I'll spend my money more wisely on a real watch."

Sent from my iPad

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