What’s this we hear — could it be the sound of Apple’s long-awaited iWatch finally on its way to the WWDC stage next month?
Actually, it’s not. This is the sound of Samsung’s fifth — yes, fifth — smartwatch.
This new watch, which it will allegedly unveil in June or July, according to the Wall Street Journal’s sources, will be able to make and receive phone calls without tethering to a smartphone, take photos, send emails, and will have GPS, Bluetooth, and a heart monitor, according to the Journal. Though sources declined to reveal a name, earlier reports from the Korea Herald said it would be called the Gear Solo.
Samsung is reportedly in talks with carriers in the U.S., Europe, and South Korea about rolling out the watch. The watch will run on Tizen, the operating system Samsung developed with Intel.
The company already has four smartwatches on the market: the Galaxy Gear, the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo, and the Gear Fit. The Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo already run on Tizen, while the others are Android-based.
As mentioned, none of Samsung’s current watches can make calls or use the Internet without being connected to a smartphone, so this would be the first independent smartwatch from a major manufacturer. The watch will have a SIM card to do that, a rumor we previously reported.
Whether this smartwatch, and Samsung’s smartwatch business overall, will amount to any major revenue stream still remains to be seen.
“There’s still the question of why people really need to buy smartwatches today,” said IBK Securities analyst Lee Seung-woo to the Journal. “Samsung is estimated to be the dominant vendor of wearables, but it will take quite a bit of time for sales to contribute to the company’s earnings,” he said, adding that the market for smartwatches is weaker than smartphones.
However, Samsung had a reported 71 percent smartwatch marketshare this past quarter, shipping 500,000 smartwatches out of a total of 700,000 smartwatches from all manufacturers.
This rumored switch to Tizen for the upcoming watch is coming at the heels of the company’s wrestling with whether to stay with Android or switch to its Tizen OS. It’s Galaxy Gear watch was released with a heavily tweaked version of Android (and flopped), causing the company to strongly consider a switch to Tizen. However, following Motorola and LG’s announcements that they’ll be releasing Android Wear-based watches, the company has also been considering the OS as ignoring it altogether could prove to be a missed opportunity.
This all remains to be seen, though these reports mean we may get answers very soon.
And if you’re curious about Samsung’s latest watch, the Gear Fit, check out our hands-on review of it.