Samsung Reinvents the Watch before Apple


Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPod, iPhone and iPad – all revolutionary products. Apple’s next major new product appears to be a smartwatch that will, unsurprisingly, be named the iWatch. A smartwatch is nowhere near as exciting as the products launched by Jobs, and certainly not revolutionary.

All of that is underpinned by the fact that Samsung chose last week (4 September) to show the world its own smartwatch. Although Samsung has not beaten Sony to release, it has moved ahead of Apple, Google and Microsoft to unveil its plans first. The fact that a brand new Apple product is being compared to those of other technology manufacturers, suggests a lack of creative spark.

Disruptive Innovation in Action

When you back at mobile innovation over the past decade, mp3 players, smartphones and tablets are all major advancements over what came before them. There is a special term that explains the development of those devices: disruptive innovation. That term was formulated by Clayton Christensen to explain the process of a new product or service developing to displace the current leaders.

Historically, new forms of disruptive technology are not widely purchased by consumers. The cost of such products is considerably higher than the standard products that dominate the market. Basically, the new products are too advanced for most consumers and have to wait until their needs reach that level. Take a look below at recent examples of disruptive technology:

  • Personal CD player > mp3 player
  • Mobile phone > smartphone
  • PDA > tablet

Samsung Galaxy Gear Price and Features

Samsung has opted to name its smartwatch the Galaxy Gear, so as to tie the product to its Galaxy smartphones and tablets. The smartwatch will be unusable without another next generation Galaxy product to pair it with (Note 3 and Galaxy S3). In contrast, Sony has decided to make its upcoming Smartwatch 2 compatible with any Android mobile devices.

The UK retail price for the Samsung Galaxy Gear has been set at the lofty value of £299. UK consumers will be expected to pay more than the $299 that US consumers will pay for the smartwatch. Now, what can consumers expect from the Samsung Galaxy Gear? Well, take a look at the main features below:

  • 800 MHz processor
  • 1.63-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen display
  • 1.9-megapixel camera
  • Integrated stereo speakers

The Future Smartwatch Market

The smartwatch is to be categorised within the wearable computing market, which has been forecast to be worth $10 billion in 2015, according to research firm Gartner. Outside of the smartwatch, another important product to be launched is Google Glass. Google is attempting to revolutionise the technology world with its digital glasses, which will essentially provide smartphone functionality without the need for hands.

Technology analysts are conducting lots of research to try and closely gauge what value the wearable computing market will be. Based on the releases of the mp3 player, smartphone and tablet, manufacturers will likely have to wait for consumer needs to catch up. Disruptive innovation only immediately appeals smaller groups of consumers, with the rest of the world later catching.

To conclude, as consumers, we might never be taken with the concept of the smartwatch. But that is where other products like Google Glass will deliver real disruptive innovation that we will later crave. Perhaps Apple would be better off chasing Google instead of Samsung.