Ever content to push out just about any idea its engineers can realize, Samsung is apparently readying a smartwatch that works as a standalone phone for release in the next few months. If you’re excited about that, you really shouldn’t be.
News of a Samsung-branded smartwatch with phone capabilities broke Friday with a story from The Wall Street Journal. The Journal says that, in addition to a fully functional phone, Samsung plans to put a camera, GPS, and heart monitor into the device.
Just to clarify: this is not the Galaxy Gear smartwatch that Samsung released in late 2013 alongside the Galaxy Note 3. Nor is it the Galaxy Gear 2 that Samsung showed off earlier this year, nor the Galaxy Gear Fit fitness tracker that Samsung debuted. This will be the fourth smartwatch device Samsung has rolled out in nine months.
Not one of Samsung’s smartwatches has taken off as “The Next Big Thing,” but Samsung doesn’t really seem to care.
Since Samsung has massive vertical integration – controlling processor-making plants, display making plants, and just about every resource it needs to make mobile tech – the company is well able to just throw together ideas to see if they work and then push them out. So that’s sort of what Samsung does, as evidenced by the dozens of smartphones the company releases every year, and now by the four smartwatches Samsung will have released within a year.
In making those devices, though, Samsung tends to just grab everything it thinks people might want and crams them into a device. The original Galaxy Gear, despite Samsung’s hype, was absolutely skewered by tech critics as a bloated, uncomfortable, and barely functional non-necessity. Samsung’s follow-up devices improved, but overall they were still bloated novelty toys.
With the latest report saying that the next Samsung smartwatch will have a phone in addition to all of the other features crammed into previous Galaxy Gear models, you can bet that it will show no signs of learning on Samsung’s part.
So why is Samsung so determined to conquer the smartwatch market? The tech industry and its attendant press have convinced themselves that “wearables” are the next big thing. Premium smartphone sales – devices like the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c – have largely plateaued, and the only real growth in the segment is coming from lower-margin devices.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear line, along with other wearables, could move up to 19 million units this year, according to some estimates. If Samsung manages to hold the top spot in that – as it has in terms of overall sales in smartphones, though not in profits – it would ensure that its bottom line was healthy going into the supposed next generation of tech.
There’s also the added bonus of maybe getting the smartwatch “right” before Apple is able to release its rumored iWatch. Three or four tries in, though, Samsung is showing no signs that they know what “right” is.
So that’s why Samsung is coming out with a watch that makes calls, takes pictures, and maybe even does your laundry. The maker of The Next Big Thing is dead set on bringing The Future to your wrist, even if you don’t quite want it.