Samsung was quick to fight back against reports of incredibly poor Galaxy Gear sales today, but if you think about it, the Gear was never going to be a big sales performer.
Following a report from BusinessKorea yesterday, which claimed only 50,000 Gear units were sold over the past two months, Samsung announced this morning that it actually shipped 800,000 units, Reuters reports.
The actual Galaxy Gear sales figures lie somewhere between those two extremes — BusinessKorea is basing its figures on “industry sources,” and Samsung is counting shipments, not actual sales. In truth, the smartwatch was more of a play for buzz than sales.
At launch, it was only compatible with Samsung’s Galaxy Note 3 smartphone and its latest Note 10.1 tablet, which severely limited its audience to people willing to purchase both a brand new phablet and a $300 unproven gadget. Samsung later added compatibility for the Galaxy S4 and S3, but at that point the Gear’s uniformly negative reviews likely scared away any potential buyers.
Samsung’s biggest problem with the Galaxy Gear isn’t how it’s selling, it’s how poorly the Gear was received by most reviewers. As I wrote in my review:
When it comes to the Galaxy Gear, Samsung doesn’t have anyone to follow except for the few companies who’ve built lackluster smartwatches so far. It’s used to iterating on existing ideas, not thinking outside the box.
The Gear was Samsung’s chance to show that it could single-handedly reinvent an entire gadget category, and it simply blew it.