While Apple, Google, and a few others have yet to launch anything but paper, Samsung appears to be preparing for their fifth product. This time Samsung is cutting the tether to the smartphone and creating a product that does not require a phone to operate. Instead it will be self-contained (including a SIM card). Of course Samsung was not the first to break into this market, but they could be a company with enough behind them to make it more mainstream.
Of course everyone in the “smartwatch” market faces some pretty big hurdles. One of the first that comes to mind is simply positioning. What is a smartwatch for? This seems to be the biggest question. We have seem products that range from a simple companion device in the form of the Cookoo watch to the much more advanced Gear 2. Having this much of a gap in the type of product does not ender the consumer to you. A category needs an identity to make it. If you do not think so just look at what the iPhone did for the “smartphone”. There were multiple products that existed before the iPhone that did the same thing, but it took an identity to push the smartphone into the hands of millions of consumers.
The same thing needs to happen here with the Smartwatch. One (or more) companies need to establish the base line set of features and/or Apps that you expect from these products. Right now it does appear that Samsung is trying to be that company, but (and here is where the irony comes in) the market seems to be waiting on Apple to do something before they move. This is happening despite the fact that multiple companies (perhaps even Microsoft) will have devices to market before Apple.
Put rather bluntly, right now is a bad time for Samsung to be the leader in any new market. Many… mainstream consumers do not think of them as innovative and there is enough bad press about them to make this impression stick. Even if they manage to make a standalone smartwatch and launch it in a few months they face a bad public image, a fledgling (and floundering) market and a lack of any real eco system to support this type of product. Sadly they are also in a position where they cannot wait to launch these products. If they did and Apple launched first it would only reinforce many people’s opinion that all they do is copy. It is a rough place to be.
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