It is the stuff of dreams, fantasy and being cool. For years people have fantasized about the watch phone – an image embedded in pop culture thanks to shows like The Knight Rider and all the gizmos and gadgets out of the James Bond series. So it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when Samsung unveiled their new Smartwatch – the Gear. There is a market and there is enthusiasm, but the element of surprise is missing for a number of reasons. Firstly this isn’t Samsung’s first attempt at bringing a watch on to the market. Attempts were made in 1999 and 2009, both to little or no avail. Finally, Sony has released its third version of the smartwatch which will present a formidable challenge. Additionally, unlike Sony, Samsung’s smartwatch will only work with other Samsung products.
Thus far things are not looking great. Having just been launched in the UK and available at a whopping £299, people have generally complained about the price while critics have pointed out the devices obvious flaws and forecasting that the device is doomed to fail. Of course it’s all speculation, but the negative forecast has been attributed to a rush to beat Apple’s iwatch, battery life issues, a sluggish interface and little device support. To add fuel to the fire, Samsung has apparently admitted that the Gear isn’t quite up to scratch – a statement that won’t inspire confidence. This statement has been juxtaposed with a statement on behalf of Lee yon gee saying that the phone is “definitely receiving a warm response”. It’s very likely that consumers will want something on their wrist that can be a complete smartphone and deliver the same functionality, like accessing an iPad casino site for a flutter or two.
Thus far the only other Samsung product that the Gear works in conjunction with is the Galaxy Note Pad 3 but plans are in motion to incorporate the Galaxy S4. The unit allows calls and has embedded speakers. It will also pull contacts, alerts and messages from your phone. But it appears that the Gear’s biggest downfall is its sluggish nature. Upon being unveiled at a launch event in Berlin on 4 September, users were quite vocal about the Gear’s slow response time. Some also found the unit itself to be rather bulky and didn’t like the idea that one had to shake it to reveal the time. The time it took to load apps was an issue but the most profound comment at that event came from Ian Fogg, director for mobile and telecoms at IHS, a research company who described the Gear as “a prototype masquerading as a commercial product – and because of that, it is unlikely to be successful in the market”.
But it doesn’t appear as if Samsung is sweating this one much as a report in Duam where the company is based suggests that Samsung’s Gear is merely a device to test the waters and an upgrade could be announced as early as January 2014.