Samsung launches smartwatch that ‘redefines the idea of a wearable’

Samsung has unveiled a new smartwatch that is the first to connect to 3G networks without the need of a smartphone and includes other “experimental” features for marketers and developers to pioneer new wearable applications.

Samsung Galaxy Gear S
Samsung launches Gear S smartwatch

The Samsung Gear S features its own SIM and 2-inch curved Super AMOLED display, allowing users to read and reply to messages and notifications on their wrist without the need to tether the device to their smartphone.

JK Shin, CEO and head of IT and mobile communication at Samsung, says: “The Samsung Gear S redefines the idea of the smart wearable and the culture of mobile communication. It will let consumers live a truly connected life anywhere, anytime.”

With the Samsung Gear S, the mobile brand has opted to run its own Tizen operating system, rather than Android Wear, which is supported by Samsung’s four other smartwatches as well as wearable devices created by manufacturers such as LG and Motorola.

By running the Tizen OS, Samsung may be able to “keep ahead of the [Android Wear] platform” when it comes to offering new types of applications for smartwatches, according to CCS Insight’s chief of research Ben Wood, but that approach will only be successful if developers and brands embrace it, he says.

He adds: “It will be a huge challenge for Samsung to convince developers, looking to create apps for smartwatches, to create apps for Tizen when Android Wear is supported by LG, Motorola and likely Sony soon too.

“Samsung will have to be able to prove meaningful advantages to developing on Tizen. I would see it as an experimental product, that has different form factors from the likes of the LG [G Watch R also unveiled last night] with the SIM and Tizen and futuristic curved screen.”

The decision for the device to come complete with its own SIM also throws up marketing questions, Wood says.

He adds: “[Consumers may ask] ‘why do I need it?’ Most people already carry their smartphones around with them all the time anyway, and it’s another subscription to think about.

“There’s a huge number of unanswered questions as to how you would market this device as an operator. It will be a more expensive product [than other smartwatches] so even with the SIM, it will need a huge amount of subsidy to get to an affordable level for consumers.”

Researchers at CCS Insight have predicted that while the wearable tech category is currently in the “Stone Age”, entries into the market by big players such as Apple – which is predicted to launch its iWatch device next month – and improvements to the aesthetics and utility of current wearables will see global sales rocket to 135 million in 2018.

Wrist-worn devices are expected to account for 87 per cent of the wearables sold in 2018, which will be made up of 68 million smart watches and 50 million smart bands, the research house predicts.