By Jason Palette, contributor
Dear Samsung Marketing and Design Department,
On behalf of all of us here at Apple, Sony, and Pebble, we would like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for singlehandedly insuring our job security. We mean, c’mon, you totally had the perfect opportunity to absolutely knock one out of the park! We’re talking; bases loaded, bottom of the 9th, down by three, grand slam walk off type stuff here. The pitch came right down the middle. We couldn’t have set it up for you any better. And to think, for a moment there, you actually had us worried. With your long standing history of infiltrating every single market you enter (even dishwashers for crying out loud!), we were really scrambling………
In my dreams. Back to reality.
You could certainly make a case for a letter like this actually being written. The design and marketing of the Samsung Galaxy Smartwatch will soon be forgotten as soon as Samsung finds something else to slap the “Galaxy” name onto. I get it, they want to establish a “name”; a “brand“. Being that they manufacture and sell so many different products, they want the association. They want consumers to say “I want a Galaxy”. But lets get to actually talking about the watch, or smart watches in general, as it appears that the future we have been reading about since Dick Tracy comic books is finally on the Horizon.
I was optimistic to say the least. I am an unadulterated fan boy of anything that goes beep, especially if it involves the android operating system (proud owner of 4 android tablets and currently have 3 phones I use regularly, not counting the 3 before them). I like tweaking them, loading custom operating systems, and doing whatever I can to eek out every bit of performance humanly possible. I also love watches (11 of those). So when I began reading about two of my favorite things colliding, mind = blown.
Then reality set in. Samsung had the perfect opportunity; riding high off of super successful Galaxy 3 and 4 sales and android market place dominance (actually, global smartphone dominance). Not even a billion dollar lawsuit can hold them down. Apple’s had hiccups, first starting with the maps fiasco, now onto iOS7 woes, and the long rumored but yet to be revealed iWatch nowhere to be found. Sony’s got financial troubles as they are trying to refocus on core products, and their almost lack of U.S. smartphone presence. Pebble is a new company with a great simple idea, but clamoring to gain market traction. All of this set the table for the Galaxy Smartwatch to establish dominance, and it will fail instead.
“Why?”, “How can you say that?”.
Its as simple as 3 main points:
1. Size – At 57mm tall, 37mm wide and 11.1mm thick, this thing even makes an Invicta blush.
2. Compatibility – android is so great with this, so why would Samsung decide to only make it Compatible with the Note 3 phablet at launch and Galaxy S4/S3 compatibility “coming soon” (seriously?)
3. Price – $300 to start, not counting the phone that has to come with it.
The combination of these three takes the already unknown smart watch market and shrinks it down to only those that want a particularly large watch, have either a Note 3, S3 or S4, and an extra $300. Sounds like a tough sell, not taking into account the other shortcomings.
“But wait, you can play candy crush and take pictures, and it has a speakerphone!!!”
Really…Candy Crush on a 1.5″ screen; have fun with that. A 1.9 megapixel camera on a watchband. I don’t even know what focus group could have possibly asked for this. And a speakerphone? I always imagined utilizing the watch for answering calls on my Bluetooth headset, not shouting to the world my entire conversation as I hold my wrist up to my mouth while trying to simultaneously hold it to my ear. Seriously, think about trying to do that, while walking, and trying to look cool.
Listen, I give Samsung an A for effort (who came up with that saying? Effort starts with E???). This is the first truly “smart watch” device, with many to come into this new market, and I believe that this is the future of mobile. Just not this watch , and not at this time. The iWatch will far outsell, because lets face it; its made by Apple and will be very attractive. Sony has the SmartWatch 2 (which actually is waterproof, unlike the Galaxy. Washing hands anyone?) It’s also $199, has an always on display, longer battery life, is smaller in size and compatible with any android phone running version 4.0+. The Pebble is sleek, easy to read, simple, and has the notification functionality and is priced at $150. This leaves the Galaxy Gear at the top end of the market, not waterproof and only available to those that own compatible phones.
Sincerely Samsung, thank you for trying, and making a path for othesr to follow. Hopefully the Galaxy Gear Smartwatch 2 (just a wild guess at the name..) will be a far better offering.
Jason Palette is a contributing author to this blog. He is a self-proclaimed tech-geek and Android enthusiast with over a decade of sales, consumer relations, and marketing experience. To contact Jason, simply comment below.