Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch looks rushed, misses the mark

Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch looks rushed, misses the mark

Summary: Samsung might be beating its prime competition to the wearables war, but being first doesn't guarantee a win.


The "Samsung Unpacked" event should have been named "Samsung Unraveling."

That's because, based on today's unveiling of the tech giant's anticipated entry into the burgeoning smartwatch market, it's clear that Samsung has dropped the ball.

It's also evident that Samsung doesn't understand the wearable technology market yet either.

To be fair, it's still a rather new space.

From the Nike FuelBand even to Google Glass, there are only a handful of wearable tech devices that the average consumer with a casual knowledge of mobile gadgets might know by name.

See CNET Hands On with Samsung Gear

That's all about to change if you listen to some tech industry analysts and manufacturing leaders.

Last week, Broadcom CEO Scott McGregor admitted during a Q&A session with members of the San Francisco tech press that it's hard to predict just how big the wearable tech market will end up being based on varying analyst reports.

Still, he speculated that most believe the sector will grow by a factor of 10 over the next five years.

The Galaxy smartphone and tablet maker is arguably the biggest name in mobile technology to get in the game to date.

Following up Samsung's introduction today as well as another SmartWatch generation from Sony, Apple is eventually expected to deliver its own entry. Rumors are also heating up around the Google camp -- especially after the Android maker's acquisition of WIMM Labs on Friday.

Still, Samsung has left the door wide open with the Galaxy Gear, which looks both rushed and exorbitantly priced at the same time.

With a $299 price tag, there was nothing conveyed during Wednesday's live-streamed presentation to justify why anyone should pay that much for a companion device that will initially only work with two other Samsung devices rolling out this fall.

A smartwatch (or any piece of wearable tech for that matter) shouldn't be released just to act as an accessory to a smartphone or tablet -- it should fill a void all on its own by being more mobile, cheaper, or a combination of both.

The Galaxy Gear doesn't come close to answering any of that.

(Let's not even get into how disappointing the overall clunky design is. If you want to know how I feel about that, then look no further than what my ZDNet colleague Andrew Nusca had to say earlier. All I can add is that Dick Tracy had a cooler-looking wristband.)

For a company that is the manufacturing leader of the Android ecosystem and topping the mobile OEM charts around the globe, we should all expect better. One has to wonder if Samsung is starting to crack under the pressure.

In the end, my only conclusion is that Samsung just wanted to beat Apple to the punch here.

Rumors have been swirling around for months that Apple is developing what has been referred to in the media as an "iWatch." Apple has confirmed that it will be hosting a media event at its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters next Tuesday, September 10, expected to cover the highly-awaited next generation of the iPhone.

But Apple hasn't even confirmed that it is working on a smartwatch yet -- and there's no rush to do so now either.

Samsung might be beating its prime competition to the wearables war, but being first doesn't guarantee a win.

Images via Samsung

Topics: Mobility, Apple, Samsung, Smartphones, Tech Industry

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  • Early adopters will love this

    It's not a refined "A" list stylish product but its not more stupid looking than Glass.
    • "...its not more stupid looking than Glass."

      Damned with faint praise.
    • The headline of this article...

      ...feels like it has been written for weeks, regardless of what would have been presented today. I'm not necessarily an Android fan or a Samsung fan, but I think the pre-criticism is already too harsh. Come on, give me a break. Seems like a pretty good first step...of course it isn't perfect.
      • Screws?

        It would be a first good step if smart watch hadn't be around for 40 years.

        Sony and plenty of other companies have done much better.

        This is the best Samsung can do. Now we know for certain they copied the iPhone.
      • Misses the Mark - What Mark, you don't even know.

        Your own comment betrays you. "To be fair, it's still a rather new space."

        Before bloviating Bloglodytes set out to destroy products they should at least have a clue. This kind of article serves nothing save being click-bait for a disingenuous corrupt organization.
  • Stop Whining

    A fellow tech journalist should be excited by new product releases. New product releases are 1.0, that means room for improvement. If you want to stick to old tech gear, why don't you duck tape your iPhone to your wrist.
    Sean Foley
    • lol

      or better yet... just answer your friggen phone instead of needing a watch that does it for you.

      can't wait for the toe ring that connects to the watch... which connects to the phone..

      this product is useless
      • Ah...

        But when both your phone rings in your pocket and your watch ring on your wrist... which one to answer first?
      • resistant to change...

        Oh ye of limited vision...
      • I laughed at one particular line.

        When I saw the phrase, "burgeoning smartwatch market," I laughed. There is no smartwatch market, much less "burgeoning." There hasn't been for at least 5 years. Few people even wear watches anymore. Smartwatches are so last century. The few excellent smartwatches already on the market are niche products selling at very low volumes. This one isn't an improvement on any of them and it's a step or two backward from a couple of them, considering you have to tie it to a smartphone for it to be truly useful. The battery life alone makes it a stupid choice. The price makes it doubly-so. Add in the fact that it's both uglier and less functional, as a stand alone device, than the iPod Nano on a wristband and you have a super duper loser of a product.

        This watch introduction is precisely as exciting as I thought it would be. *Zzzzzz* The mythical iWatch will fare no better.
        • Watches obsolete?

          The one function of a watch as opposed to a phone is that it can be checked without holding anything in the hand or pressing any button. This has been true of all watches except the short-lived fad of LED watches in the early 1970's (and LCD's replaced them rather quickly) which, to save on battery life, required the wearer to press a button with the OTHER hand in order to read the time for maybe a second. This is why pocket watches became obsolete except as "fashion items" ... because soldiers needed a way to check time of day in the battlefield while carrying weapons in both hands (and at night, thanks to luminescent dials, originally containing radium and later with light-storing phosphors), and this was found to be convenient in civilian life also (ladies' watches essentially replaced one of the bracelets that women would wear to be fashionable).

          However, as long as a smartwatch ONLY serves to display the time of day, it cannot compete on price or battery life with a traditional battery operated watch, either digital or mechanical (with the latter being more compatible with non-geek living). A smartwatch, either stand-alone or paired with a smartphone, has to do more: at least set off alarms at scheduled times, or when email or SMS messages come in, and provide a way to read those messages. Since the small form factor of a watch works against a built-in touch or keyboard display (until both battery power and components can be shrunk enough to project the display on a nearby wall or other surface), pairing with a smartphone is the best option. A smartwatch purchaser would ALREADY have the smartphone; the watch would be analogous to a Bluetooth earplug, but for visual data. It would display enough of an incoming message or task alert to decide whether taking the phone itself out is worth it right now, or can wait. Actually, some people may want to wear BOTH the watch and the Bluetooth earplug, speaking into the watch (a la Dick Tracy) but hearing the other party in the earplug, for more privacy.

          None of us knows yet what the exact capabilities of this prototype are, but I feel it has to get substantially thinner and have a longer battery life. In addition, those of us who have heirloom traditional watches would be loath to stop wearing them. Which brings up another point: has any company given out DIGITAL retirement watches? None that I know of, because no digital watch made so far looks elegant enough to be a keepsake or an heirloom.

          As for the Apple product, one rumor is that it is not a wrist-worn "watch" as in timepiece, but a "watching" device for video content. That would seem to be redundant, however, because the iPhone and iPad already have video streaming capability, unless the streaming "iWatch" video comes from a different and cheaper physical link than streaming from 4G or wi-fi.
    • 1.0?

      The first iPhone was 1.0 and took the market. This junk will die a quick death.

      Hint, it's already dead. See how fast Samsung copies the iWatch.
  • I would have expected something...

    At least as interesting, if not considerably better, than the old home-brew iPod nano watch that was going around. I mean, come on, that's three year old tech. But this is not even that good. Totally agree, this was about getting anything out the door "first". On the plus side, things can only get better.
    • They'll have to wait for you-know-who... show them how it's done. Again.
      • this sounds

        as if Apple invented mp3 players, or smartphones, or electronic watches. Again.
        • No. Not "invented".

          Just "polished" them and made them better than they'd ever been made before.
          • Not this time

            Jobs is gone. If he was still about, Apple would be about to clean Samsung's clock on this. But with him gone, I doubt Cook can refine it to perfection.
          • You do know who Jonathan Ives is, right?

            Arm A. Geddon
          • Yes

            He is the one that created the horrific UI in ios7.

            Ugh, that man has absolutely no sense of style.
          • Well he doesn't with UIs, it would seem

            But I think it is difficult to argue he hasn't made some pretty stylish computer hardware.