The competitive effort by Samsung and Google to introduce an “iWatch” is not unlike the US-Soviet race to launch a man into space. Early September should bring new wearable devices from both companies within days of one another.
Both Bloomberg and the NY Times reported that Samsung is going to announce its smart watch on either September 4 or 6, seeking to preempt Apple’s anticipated similar announcement during its iPhone event on September 10 (still not confirmed).
Samsung’s watch is reportedly to be called “Galaxy Gear,” which sounds more like a product category than an individual product. We can expect Apple’s smart watch to be branded “iWatch.” The company has applied for the trademark “iWatch” in Japan according to Reuters.
The Samsung device, based on Android, will reportedly “make phone calls, play video games and send e-mails,” according to the Times’ article. The Apple watch will likely interact with the iPhone and iOS apps, but it’s not clear what specific features it will possess.
There are already a number of smart watches in the market. The Kickstarter-funded Pebble, for example, is now available from Best Buy for $150. The outlook for Pebble could be dramatically affected by the introduction of the Samsung and Apple smart watches. Ultimately some alchemical mix of features, design and pricing will determine sales.
Smart watches are part of a new category of wearable Internet devices, which include Google Glass but also Fitbit and other gadgets. A recent consumer study conducted for Rackspace found mixed demand and reaction to wearable technology. While many people thought their lives had been enhanced, there were also frustrations and privacy concerns.
Google Glass, while not a mainstream product, has already captured the public’s imagination. And though it’s unclear how these new experiences will be monetized, Google is already considering “pay per gaze” ad models.
Marketers have yet to fully embrace and adapt to mobile. Yet, here comes another category of connected devices to address.
The smartphone has dramatically impacted watch sales. However sufficiently “cool” and functional smart watches may revive interest. The idea of a smart watch or watch phone has captivated people since the Dick Tracy comic strip first appeared in the 1930s.