Who wants a smartwatch? Anybody?
NEW YORK — If consumer electronics companies are to be believed, someone on your holiday shopping list is just dying for a wristwatch that displays message alerts and weather updates.
Samsung and Sony have devices out for the holidays. Qualcomm has one coming. Apple is believed to be making one, and a new report says Google is developing one, too.
Why the big push for computerized watches? It's not coming from consumers, says Jonathan Gaw, a research manager at IDC. Rather, it's a product in search of a market —and an expensive one at that.
“We've had smartwatches for a while, and while the capabilities and technology have gotten better, this is still not something that people are clamoring for,” Gaw says. “The idea that it would ramp up for the holidays was always kind of a stretch.”
That hasn't stopped gadget makers from trying. Companies are under pressure to create a new source of buzz now that consumers are no longer wowed by the latest smartphones and tablet computers. Many people already have those devices, and the new ones out this year are evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Gaw says many gadget makers see an opportunity to jump in with a smartwatch, before a behemoth like Apple is able get its rumored iWatch ready.
Last month, Samsung Electronics Co. started selling the $300 Galaxy Gear in the U.S. It works with selected Samsung smartphones to display email and text alerts. There's a camera on the strap for low-resolution photos and a speakerphone on the watch to make calls while leaving your phone in the pocket. You can install apps for additional functionality, such as tracking fitness activities and playing games, though there are only a handful of apps available for now.
Sony Corp.'s SmartWatch 2 is cheaper, at $200. Unlike the Gear, it works with a variety of Android phones, not just Sony's. But it doesn't let you make phone calls directly through the wristwatch. You can answer calls using the watch, but you need a Bluetooth wireless headset linked to the phone if you don't want to hold it to your ear.
Qualcomm Inc., meanwhile, plans to start selling Toq before the holidays. It, too, will work with Android.
Another smartwatch getting attention is the Pebble, which comes from a startup that raised more than $10 million through the fundraising site Kickstarter. It notifies you of incoming calls, texts and emails.
Apple isn't likely to release its iWatch before next year, given that no mention was made of it at the company's product showcase.
As for Google, The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed people familiar with the matter on Tuesday in reporting that the Internet search company is in late-stage development on a smartwatch which could be ready for mass production within months.
Samsung and Sony executives say they've designed their watches to give people ready access to information they would normally check on their phones, reducing the need to constantly pull out the phones.
Only Qualcomm seems to be acknowledging that there's no real consumer demand for smartwatches yet. The company says it's trying to showcase what's possible, so other manufacturers will take the concept and build better products — using Qualcomm's display technology and other components.
In September, Samsung executives said the company has a history of taking risks. The company notes that people were skeptical about its Note phones with big screens, too, but now several other manufacturers are making Android phones with bigger and bigger screens.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Cause for Paws’ telethon helps dogs find homes
- Real estate union: Howard Hanna buys Langholz Wilson Ellis
- EPA says it won’t regulate coal ash as hazardous waste
- As smokers seek Cuban cigars, retailers point to trade embargo
- Coal ash sites have tainted hundreds of waterways, aquifers
- ExOne Co. moves solidify authority under CEO
- Americans support strict rules for drones in poll
- First Niagara to cut 200 jobs; Pittsburgh impact unclear
- Some in Western Pa. affected by Staples data breach
- Pennsylvania jobless rate drops to 5.1 percent
- Treasury turns profit as it exits GM bailout