Samsung confirms plans for 'watch product'


— 6:00 AM on March 20, 2013

Last month, the rumor mill claimed Apple is working on a "watch-like device" that will offer some level of smartphone functionality. Now, rival Samsung has told Bloomberg that it's developing a watch of its own. This doesn't appear to be some kind of knee-jerk reaction to the Apple rumor, either. Lee Young Hee, VP of Samsung's Mobile Business, said the firm has "been preparing the watch product for so long."

A timeline isn't provided for when Samsung will have something to sell, and the firm could wait until flexible displays are ready. That technology seems like a perfect fit for wrist-mounted devices, at least if you want a decent-sized screen. Late last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung's flexible display tech was in "the last phase of development," so we may see something sooner rather than later.

Pursuing watch development seems like an odd course of action for smartphone makers whose products have replaced wrist watches for a lot of folks. The reason for this new direction, according to Bloomberg, is that the smartphone market is becoming saturated. There's $60 billion to be made annually on watches, and handset makers want a piece of the action.

They also want another opportunity to lock consumers into their platforms, Bloomberg says. Ugh.

The rising popularity of electronic fitness trackers makes me think wrist-mounted devices could have some utility. I certainly wouldn't mind having a watch with an integrated accelerometer, GPS tracker, heart-rate monitor, music player, and some form of basic messaging. That would be a perfect companion for running and biking. There's also some intriguing potential for interplay between smartphones and wearable devices. That said, I'm having a hard time envisioning mass-market demand for a high-tech wrist computer. Most of the watches I see in the wild have analog dials rather than digital displays, and they seem to be chosen for fashion rather than function.

   
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