Samsung revealed that it’s working on a high-tech watch, which will pack smartphone features. 2013 could shape up as the year of smartwatch wars, with longtime foes Apple and Samsung leading the battle.
“We’ve been preparing the watch product for so long,” Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business, said during an interview with Bloomberg in Seoul.
“We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.”
Though the company’s executive vice president didn’t unveild features of the device, its price and release date, the announcement makes it seem like the product could be released in time for Apple’s anticipated iWatch release, or even sooner.
The two are involved in a long battle and the fact that the Korean tech maker announced plans for a wearable computing device means that the company is covering every area Apple eyes.
Last month saw reports quoting people familiar with the matter suggested that the Cupertino company had a team of 100 engineers working on the so-called iWatch headed by industrial design chief Jony Ive, with further reports suggesting it was set to launch in 2013.
According to rumors functions of the device will include letting the wearer make calls, see the identity of incoming callers, check map coordinates, and a heart rate monitor, reports The International Business Times.
“The team, which has grown in the past year, includes managers, members of the marketing group, and software and hardware engineers who previously worked on the iPhone and iPad,” the sources said at the time.
Smartwatches are nothing new, as Sony launched one to compliment its Xperia smartphones last year. A couple of years before that LG launched a similar device costing £1,000 which unsurprisingly was not a huge hit.
There were also some independent efforts like the Kickstarter-funded Pebble and the Italian I’m Watch, though both offer limited functionality and are quite expensive.
“It would transform the whole smartphone business and the whole watch business at the same time,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for consumer research firm NPD Group. “And for the better.”
“The issue here is who will first commercialise it so consumers can use it meaningfully,” Samsung’s Lee said.
The “use if meaningfully” phrase could mean that Samsung intends to develop a smartwatch which includes enough benefits without being cumbersome or ugly. Reports have suggested a major sticking point is the watch’s battery life to a sufficient level.
The news comes soon after the Samsung’s long-awaited new smartphone was finally unveiled in New York a week ago.
Galaxy S4 is scheduled to hit stores by the end of April and rolled out to 327 carriers in 155 countries, including U.S. largest service providers such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA.
“Samsung has fulfilled the promise of their marketing that they are the tech innovators. It remains to be seen whether it’s overload for customers, whether they can really take advantage of all these features,” said Forrester analyst Charles Golvin.