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Business Briefing

Will Samsung Gear Be Like a Digital Swiss Army Knife?

Will Samsung Gear Be Like a Digital Swiss Army Knife?
August 27, 2013 1:56PM

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"Is the Galaxy Gear going to be a piece of overwhelming technology that will again appeal to consumers that like overwhelming technology? Or has Samsung figured out the magic formula that makes the Gear something that every consumer wants to have?" asked Avi Greengart, a principal analyst at Current Analysis.

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After plenty of speculation, Samsung has confirmed that it is planning to unveil a smart watch at the IFA technology trade show in Berlin on Sept. 4. With that, Samsung goes head-to-head with Sony and Pebble while Apple has yet to reveal specific plans for the category.

In an interview with The Korea Times, Samsung revealed the name of the smart watch -- the Galaxy Gear -- and that it will offer a non-flexible display. But we don't know much else about the long-awaited device.

"The Gear won't have a flexible display. The new device will enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience in many ways," Lee Young-hee, executive vice president of Samsung's mobile business, told the paper. "It will lead a new trend in smart mobile communications. We are confident that the Gear will add meaningful momentum to the mobile industry."

What Features Will Samsung Include?

To get a pulse on the smart watch possibilities, we turned to Avi Greengart, a principal analyst at Current Analysis. He told us we're at a wearable technology tipping point. The price and size of the technologies that enable small devices have declined and the battery life has lengthened, thanks in large part to smartphones.

"The fact that consumers are carrying smartphones means these wearable devices have something to talk to and, in some, cases offload processes to as they have constant communication to the macro network," Greengart said. "Smartphones are basically always connected super computers in our pocket. And when you can connect an always-connected super computer in your pocket to something on your wrist or head, it opens up all kinds of new possibilities."

The question on Greengart's mind -- and the minds of many other industry watchers -- is which of those possibilities has Samsung decided is compelling enough to consumers to land in the device. Smart watches that display the information that's on your phone have proven popular among early adopters but certainly have not gone mainstream. The possibilities are virtually endless.

Creating a New Category

As Greengart sees it, the key to success is about more than how tightly the smart watch ties to a Galaxy S phone. What it does and what it doesn't do are vital.

"Is the Galaxy Gear going to be a piece of overwhelming technology that will again appeal to consumers that like overwhelming technology? Or has Samsung figured out the magic formula that makes the Gear something that every consumer wants to have?" Greengart asked.

We'll have to wait and see. What is clear is that Samsung has the ability to create new categories. Samsung proved the point with the Galaxy Note, which was first introduced at IFA in 2010. The third generation of the Note is expected out next week.

"The Note was the first commercially successful phablet, a product with a huge display that included Wacom 10 technology. They included a higher resolution display with larger fonts. They got some of the details right and they created a category where none had existed before," Greengart said. "That's to Samsung's credit."

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