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Samsung will unveil its Android-running smartwatch in Berlin on September 4, beating Apple to a market that the Cupertino company has been rumored to be pursuing for at least 10 months.
Which means the Samsung rumors were true, at least.
Samsung’s executive vice president for mobile, Lee Young-hee, announced the impending launch in an interview with KoreaTimes today. The new Samsung smartwatch will be called the Galaxy Gear, putting it under the same brand label of Samsung’s top-selling smartphones and tablets. It will not have a flexible display, but will “enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience in many ways,” Young-Lee said.
If that’s the case, the Samsung smartwatch likely fits into the dashboard or console category of smartwatch, not the the multi-function category. Dashboard-style smartwatches are mainly more-accessible screens for alerts and notifications from connected devices such as smartphones, while multi-function smartwatches often include sensors and capability to measure health and fitness activity, among other things.
Which means that Apple may still have a wide-open niche to fill with iWatch.
Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently spurred to speed up by Apple’s board, after pre-announcing almost six months of no new Apple product launches back in April of this year. As a result of that excess of deliberation, the company’s international sales have drooped, its global iPhone market share is sliding, and its once-unassailable tablet lead has been chopped in half.
Apple is rumored to be announcing a new product in September, perhaps on the tenth. That, most likely, will be the company’s new iPhone 5S and the colorful, cheaper iPhone 5C. But it’s possible that Apple is preparing a massive, integrated unveiling of many new products, a la the October 23 Apple Event last year.
If so, there’s an outside chance we could see the iWatch unveiled right after the Galaxy Gear.
A Juniper Research report, coincidentally released just this morning, suggests that Samsung and Apple’s entrance into the smartwatch market will boost device adoption to 36 million by 2018. But that will only happen if Apple does indeed release a smartwatch product alongside Samsung’s new Gear.
Tech evangelist Robert Scoble is pretty sure Apple will, and that it will be a hit.
“It’s going to be geek jewelry, and normal people are going to want it because it’s probably going to be very beautiful looking, and it will be a new thing to show off, and I now have a new display for my mobile phone,” he told me last week.
While Samsung has not provided more details, the Gear likely sports a 2.5″ display, uses Bluetooth to communicate to Samsung smartphones, and may have NFC for syncing and authentication. Interestingly, the watch will likely sync with a Samsung app that is not available from Google Play but instead must be downloaded from Samsung’s own app store.
Which would make this smartwatch yet another attempt by Samsung — along with Tizen, its own smartphone operating system — to ween itself from Google and Google Play.