Samsung is also hard at work developing a smartwatch. Executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile sector, Lee Young Hee, confirmed in an interview that the company is indeed developing the product, saying that the company is “preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.” We shouldn’t be too surprised, as not only is wearable computing the obvious next wave of consumer electronics, but Samsung has dabbled in this market before.
Pictured below, the Samsung S9110, isn’t exactly a smartwatch, but it is a watch phone with minimal phone capabilities. The S9110 sported a 1.76-inch touchscreen, as well as Bluetooth 2.1, voice recognition, and an MP3 player. Perhaps amusingly, the S9110 only had 40MB of internal memory, and retailed for around $640.
So, if you’re going to claim Samsung is just copying Apple, at least the company can point to its past offerings and say it has been leading up to a smartwatch for a while. Even though modern-day smartwatches are rumored to run operating systems similar or equal in power to our smartphones, anyone jumping into the smartwatch game will have to offer something smartphones and tablets don’t. A major reason why tablets became popular even though they essentially run the same software as smartphones, and don’t make phone calls, is that they offer a much larger screen. A phone can’t replace a standard computer, but a larger screen with a keyboard attachment could.
As phones are trending larger, a smartwatch with a smaller screen might not be as appealing — especially if it can’t make calls, even more so if Apple and Samsung (and whoever else) are unable to make the watch look like a fashionable accessory. After all, phones stay in your pocket most of the time, and aren’t classified as a fashion accessory like a watch is.
Samsung will no doubt try to beat Apple to market — or at least release shortly after — as there isn’t a smartwatch industry yet, and whoever is first to market will likely gain an advantage. Opening up another tier of products — alongside computers, phones, and tablets — will certainly help Apple bring in more cash, but as mentioned above, the smartwatch likely won’t take off unless it offers something consumers can’t get anywhere else.
Like we saw with the iPod Nano wristwatch attachment, no one really cared back then, and Apple went right back to the rectangular design after the square Nano. Rumors suggest that Apple will be attempting to release the smartwatch sometime this year, so we can likely assume Samsung’s will be launched around the same time.