Smartwatches look set to dominate this year’s IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, which was to open yesterday, stealing the limelight from smartphones and tablet computers.
“One of the big hype products and topics this year for IFA are smartwatches,” Gartner analyst Annette Zimmermann said.
South Korean giant Samsung is expected to once again set the tone, since US rival Apple never traditionally exhibits at international electronics fairs.
Samsung, which already dominates the smartphone market, was scheduled to unveil its hotly anticipated Galaxy Gear watch yesterday, for once pipping Apple at the post on a major product launch.
The opening of last year’s IFA was overshadowed by a patent war between the two bitter rivals, with Apple having just won an important legal victory over Samsung. However, this time, innovation will be the battlefield, with the South Koreans one step ahead. After months of rumor, Samsung will premiere its smartwatch, while reports suggest Apple’s “iWatch” is still being manufactured in Taiwan. Samsung has been whetting appetites for days now.
Last week, the group’s head of mobile business, Lee Young-hee, confirmed the Galaxy Gear launch to the Korea Times.
“The new device will enhance and enrich the current smart mobile experience in many ways. It will lead a new trend in smart mobile communications. We are confident that the Gear will add meaningful momentum to the mobile industry,” Lee said.
Following smartphones and tablets, wearable computers look set to be the way forward for the high-tech industry. At the start of the year, Google gave a foretaste when it unveiled a prototype of Internet-enabled interactive spectacles.
Manufacturers such as Sony, Motorola and Casio are also lining up to launch smartwatches. Zimmermann at Gartner said “ultramobility” was one of the themes of this year’s IFA.
“Users today have strong mobility/portability needs and vendors are trying to address that,” she said.
E-Mail access, social networks and photographs are all becoming indispensable. So-called “phablets,” devices that are mid-way between smartphones and tablets, are also attracting attention, and hybrid tablets or “smart PCs” combining touch screens and keyboards were already the buzz of last year. For household electronics, the new buzzword is ultra-HD — TV screens with four times the resolution of Full HD sets. Last year, 3D television was the hot novelty.
Even if many high-tech gadgets never actually establish themselves, electronic products exert an “unbelievable fascination,” said Christian Goeke, head of Messe Berlin, the exhibition center’s operator.