Wed, Sep 25, 2013 - Page 13 News List

Samsung launches first smartwatch in Taipei

By Helen Ku  /  Staff Reporter

Samsung Electronics Co, the world’s largest smartphone brand, yesterday launched its first wearable electronic device in Taiwan after its debut earlier this month, saying that the smartwatch Galaxy Gear is becoming a new growth area for smartphone vendors as the smartphone market is becoming saturated.

“Following smartphone products, wearable electronic devices are bringing on a revolution to the global tech industry,” Andy Tu (杜偉昱), general manager of Samsung Taiwan’s mobile communications team, told reporters on the sidelines of a product launch event in Taipei.

On Sept. 4, Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch and Galaxy Note 3 phablet products ahead of this year’s IFA industrial production exhibition in Berlin.

Supported by Bluetooth, a wireless technology standard for short-distance data exchange, the 1.63-inch Galaxy Gear smartwatch allows users to access their Galaxy-series smartphones to look up their contacts and make phone calls.

In addition, Galaxy Gear users can also use the smartwatch to check the weather and take pictures, as long as their smartphones are also supported by Bluetooth.

Angela McIntyre, research director on wearable technology at US-based market researcher Gartner Inc, held a more pessimistic view on the outlook for the market of wearable electronic devices.

“Demand [for smartwatch] has always been rather small [compared to that for smartphones], and the value of such product to the customer has not really been examined,” British public-service television broadcaster Channel 4 cited McIntyre as saying in a report on Friday last week.

McIntyre said using a smartwatch to make phone calls is considered “tedious” and thus might prevent the smartwatch from overtaking the smartphone soon.

As the Galaxy Gear runs Google Inc’s Android operating system, Samsung is currently working with firms like Naver Corp to develop LINE, a popular instant-messaging app, for the device, Liu said.

Earlier this year, Gartner forecast market value of smartwatch would expand to US$10 billion by 2016.

The Galaxy Gear smartwatch will be priced at NT$9,900 (US$335) per unit.

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