(Nightlead) Will Samsung’s Galaxy Gear change mobile trend?

By Yoo Seungki

SEOUL, Sept. 5 (PNA/Xinhua) — Samsung Electronics, the world’s No. 1 smarthone maker, unveiled its newest version of phablet Galaxy Note 3 and its companion gadget Galaxy Gear, a first-generation wearable device to complement Samsung’s smartphones and phablets, at the Berlin trade show Thursday.

The Galaxy Gear smart watch, which will be on display at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin for six days to Sept. 11, will be worn on the wrist to serve as a companion, or a supplementary device, to the new phablet, or a hybrid of smarpthone and tablet PC.

The voice-controlled smart watch will allow users to keep tracking”hands-free” call and message. For example, a user whose hands are full with shopping bags can still make a phone call by making a voice order into the Galaxy Gear without taking out the phone and touching the screen.

The wristwatch with a 1.63-inch AMOLED display has a 1.9 megapixel built-in camera, which allows users to shoot videos and take pictures with the slightest gesture and can transmit them via Bluetooth to other mobile devices such as the Galaxy Note 3.

PORTABLE TO WEARABLE

The Galaxy Gear can change the global mobile trend from portable to wearable. During the portable era, users of smartphones were always connected to the cyberspace and did almost everything such as calls, messages, videos, games and photos with one gadget, but they cannot be free from hands.

The wrist-worn smart watch can create a new era of wearables by providing hands-free services that smartphones have offered.” Galaxy Gear will open a new chapter of wearable device. It will spearhead new lifestyles and culture,”Shin Jong-kyun, chief executive of Samsung’s mobile business, said at a briefing for foreign correspondents in Suwon headquarters last Friday.

Wearable devices would become a new trend and create a new product category, Shin said, noting that there has been strong confidence within the company in the success of the Galaxy Gear.

Samsung beat its archrival Apple by rolling out its own smart watch. The iPhone maker was rumored to launch its iWatch next year. Apple has been reportedly working on the smart watch by hiring Jay Blahnik, who worked for Nike for 20 years and participated in developing the Fuelband, a fitness wearable that monitors steps and calories and sends the information to iPhone apps.

In mid-May, the search engine giant Google unveiled the Google Glass, an eyeglass-type product that enables users to shoot videos and take photos whenever and wherever they want with the slightest gesture or voice. It offers augmented reality while interacting with the real world.

BARRIERS

Technical barriers are something that wearable devices have in common. There also remains skepticism whether the devices worn on body can meet consumer needs and create a big market.

Samsung’Galaxy Gear has a battery capacity of 315mAh, which the company claims can run for around 28 hours. It means users should recharge the smart watch almost every day, hampering the convenience and appeal of the product. Voice recognition cannot work on noisy environments.

Lack of technology in parts and components limited rooms for more fashionable design. The Galaxy Gear looked bulky and clunky in design, with rectangular display and camera loaded. Samsung, a tech-product manufacturer, has ingrained limitations in sense of design.

The Google Glass can offer limited legibility of ambient information and cause dizziness for wearers when putting on the eyewear for a long time. In addition, wearing eyeglasses itself can be inconvenient for consumers. “Consumers may choose to have a single smartphone rather than wear the Google Glass and the iWatch while holding another smartphone,”said Suh Keeman, a research fellow at LG Economic Research Institute (LGERI).

POTENTIAL

Samsung’s Galaxy Gear will highly likely act as a high-priced accessory to other mobile devices for the time being.”Galaxy Gear is a companion device, which operates various functions like a companion. It would take a very long time (for Samsung) to show independent wearable devices,”said Shin.

It would the best strategy for wearable devices to jump on the bandwagon of smartphone boom as it can reduce burden for overcoming technical barriers and costs for commercialization.

If Samsung can remedy shortcomings in technical barriers and unveil more fashionable designs, consumers could start to see wearables as their main gadgets rather than an accessory to smartphones. “If consumers can use sufficient wearables that they like, they may not give any significance to smartphones,”said the researcher in LGERI.