iWatch and where Samsung went wrong with Galaxy Gear

We don’t know for sure if Apple is working on a product called the iWatch, but even the hint that they were sent Samsung on a quest to beat Apple to market with it. Samsung won the race, but they made several fatal flaws that could cost them dearly.

I have been saying for several months on Amplified that people need to get away from the idea of “iWatch” being a watch— think of it more as a wearable device for your life. It’s absurd to think that Apple is going to release a watch and that was Samsung’s biggest mistake—they believed it.

Samsung believed the rumors and made the device they thought Apple would bring to market. A smartwatch described by Vlad Savov at The Verge like this:

Yes, it’s a smartphone accessory that can pick up notifications, control music playback, and keep time with a rich variety of watch faces, but Samsung takes it a few steps further by integrating a 1.9-megapixel camera, a speaker, and two microphones — allowing you to shoot short 720p movies and even conduct phone calls with the Galaxy Gear.

Importantly, the Galaxy Gear is not a phone in its own right — it relies on a Bluetooth connection to your Samsung Galaxy device in order to do most of its connected work.

John Gruber summed up my initial thoughts perfectly:

About the best you could expect from Samsung without having anything to copy from Apple: overpriced, ugly, laggy UI, terrible battery life, dubious utility.

Galaxy Gear reminds me more of a Casio Calculator Watch than anything we would expect a high-tech company to build today. Samsung got caught up in trying to be first to market with a product instead of trying to solve a problem for its users. That is what technology is supposed to do for us—this doesn’t.

I do believe the wrist could be an important place for a wearable device, but I want it to do more than sync with my phone or have a camera so I can take selfies. Galaxy Gear lacks imagination and innovation and does nothing to push technology, or our use of it, forward.

In looking at what Apple might do for a wearable device, we need to look at what we do everyday and how that device would help us. It could be in the car, the living room or while we are walking in the park. Wherever it is, the device needs to push us forward and solve a problem. It needs to become part of our life by becoming an indispensable part of it.

Galaxy Gear does none of these things.

When and if Apple releases a wearable device, Samsung will undoubtedly see where it went wrong and within months release a product bearing a striking resemblance to Apple’s new product.



  • Muero

    “Every day” not “everyday”

    • Timothy Fultz

      “Everyday” is grammatically correct, too. It depends on the emphasis of the sentence.

      • Muero

        One is an adjective and one is an adverb. If you can’t tell which one is correct in that sentence, you should quit commenting about grammar.

        • Joe

          So… did you understand what the author meant? If so, then the writing did it’s job. In my opinion, any unsolicited comment you volunteer on the grammar reflects on your shortcomings as a person, rather than any perceived shortcomings of the author as a writer…

          • Muero

            “It’s job”? Shoot me now.

            I’ll just leave this here: http://mattgemmell.com/2013/08/15/language-skills/

          • Joe

            I hope you appreciate it — I left that just for you!

          • Joe

            (Good job entirely missing the message, by the way…)

          • Muero

            You didn’t read what I posted. I’ll paste part of it here so you don’t have to go through the trouble of figuring out how a hyperlink works.

            “You know what I mean”

            Probably, yes (but not definitely). The issue usually isn’t that you’re failing to convey meaning; it’s the other things you’re conveying alongside. You’re giving an impression of either laziness, lack of education or intelligence, or (in the most generous case) having a learning disability.

            You’re damaging your own reputation. The fact that you don’t seem to care about it only compounds the problem.

          • Space Gorilla

            Yes! A good writer takes the time to use words correctly. It reflects poorly on you when you make basic mistakes. There is no reality in which “we need to look at what we do everyday” is correct. It should be “every day”, meaning “each day”. You could of course write “the Galaxy Gear is good for everyday use”.

            A simple trick to tell the difference is to substitute “each day” and “daily”. If “each day” makes sense then you want to use “every day”, the two word form. If “daily” makes sense then you want to use “everyday”.

        • JasonDiaz

          “Don’t think, feel! It is like a finger pointing a way to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory.”

  • hexx

    releasing a watch in the time when most of the people dropped them (my rado sits in the box on the shelf) in favour of always present phone was always going to be a bad idea – my 2p (no cents here, UK land)

    • Yup. When I wear a watch, it’s for style, and it’s a sometimes thing.

      If Apple’s non-existent watch existed and was cheap and nice enough, maybe I’d wear it. But a Samsung watch? Gotta be a joke.

      • Sigivald

        Yes.

  • Henrique Martin

    I wish the watch rumors were created by Apple just to make confusion with everyone else. And Samsung was the 1st to fall for it.

    • I don’t think Apple needs to create any rumours; the “press” is happy to do it on their own. 🙂

    • joseph

      its really funny because it proves how much samsung relies on its products by stealing other ideas and calling it theirs, and vice verse with apple

  • Space Gorilla

    If they could get Siri working flawlessly, maybe a Star Trek communicator type deal that you pin on and simply talk to.

    • Odi Kosmatos

      Yes. Thinking outside the wrist.

  • Let them try. It’s tougher to pick on with a company that’s now about the same size. And Apple’s wearable product, if ever there is one, will be ready to ship in volume.

  • Will

    I haven’t been to The Loop in a few months as I felt it started to get immensely anti-Google and kind of unbalanced, but this was a really nice piece. Well said.

    • googles been doing a lot to dislike these days.

  • SockRolid

    Apple could have shipped the 2010 iPod nano (6th gen) with a watchband and bluetooth. If and only if they thought a dead-simple “wrist-top” media player plus clock plus 2nd iPhone screen was a good product idea.

    They didn’t. Apple probably has a Numbers spreadsheet with the various what-if scenarios, and it is probably telling them to not ship yet-another-Pebble-clone. (Not to mention that Apple legal must also be telling them the same.) Evidently Samsung’s marketing and/or legal groups told them to go ahead and beat Apple to market simply to establish “prior art.” Just in case.

    But no, Pebble, Gear, Toq, and whatever “smartwatches” there are on the market now, are all dead end products. They’re slaved to smartphones and/or pad computers. They’re just accessories. (Remember the Palm Foleo? No? Yeah, didn’t think so.)

    I think Apple might be doing something totally different. The “iWatch” might be more an iPhone replacement in the way that Google Glass is an Android handset replacement. And one of the keys to making the “iWatch” a viable iPhone replacement is a really good set of Apple wireless earbuds. Because the screen will be too small to type on, and it will rely on Siri and/or non-verbal non-touch commands. Like nodding or shaking your head instead of saying “yes” and “no.” And because having a wired set of earbuds connected to your wrist would be totally unacceptable. The cord would get caught on too many things, pulling your earbuds out, etc.

    So maybe, toward the end of tomorrow’s iPhone “5S” and “5C” event, someone from Apple (Ive?) might announce wireless Bluetooth 4.0 earbuds. And people will say “What a cool iPhone accessory,” while Apple gets to test and refine some of their future “iWatch” technology in the open. Or if not tomorrow, then some time in the near future. Some time before the actual “iWatch” is rolled out.

    • Sebastian Paul

      I’m not sure about the iWatch replacing the iPhone and I find it difficult to see Apple charging 600+ Dollars for an iWatch that also IS a telephone etc.

      But I’d like to add to your vision by saying that the iWatch could be one block in a LEGO-like “iPhone of the future”

      A future iPhone might be: 1. A device that connects to the outside world, via LTE, Wifi and GPS. 2. A big screen, which could also be used as a camera. 3. An easily accessible screen. – 3.1 Input/Output for the more accessible screen.

      1. is just a “black box” with a battery and long-range-communications, that creates a network for all the other devices. Imagine using your iPad as a hotspot. It can be a bit heavier and thicker, because you don’t have to have it easily accessible at all.
      2. Something like the iPod Touch. If you want to play games or browse the web, a smaller screen is not enough, so we need some kind of iPhone-like device – but it doesn’t need to be a phone.
      3. iWatch! Small screen on your wrist. 3.1 – The Bluetooth-earbuds you mentioned.

      Device 1 could be used alone, to get all of your MacBooks online. People have asked for 3G/4G support in a MacBook for years – this would be Apples answer to that. Device 2 would be an iPod Touch, but would become an iPhone (as we know it) when paired with Device 1. Device 3 would be a good looking watch, could track bodily functions, would display a calendar etc. When paired with Device 1, it would become a telephone. When paired with Device 2 it would become a notification device and could mirror the screen of some simpler apps. When paired with Devices 1 and 2 and 3.1 it would become some kind of aural augmented reality.

      Prices?

      Just a guess: Device 1: – 199-249$ Device 2. – 299-399$ (or higher, with more capacity) Device 3. – 249-299$ Device 3.1 – 69$, maybe included when buying one of the others

      If you want an iPhone, combine 1 and 2 for the price you pay for an iPhone now, but gain more flexibility, no need to upgrade D1 if you don’t need LTE++Deluxe, just upgrade D2 for that better camera. Additional benefit: Higher battery life.

      This wouldn’t exactly be walking around like a cyborg, nothing strapped to your face and the only additional thing you would have to carry around would be Device 1. Women would just carry it around in a handbag, men or people on a beach… hm…

      Maybe a case that attaches D1 to the back of D2, like the Mophie Juice cases.

    • Sigivald

      “They didn’t. Apple probably has a Numbers spreadsheet with the various what-if scenarios, and it is probably telling them to not ship yet-another-Pebble-clone. (Not to mention that Apple legal must also be telling them the same.)”

      Why would Legal tell them that?

      There’s no legal problem with selling a watchband on a Nano. (If the Pebble has any patents, the Nano pre-dates them – and “on a wrist-worn device” isn’t going to pass a novelty test before a judge. Apple can afford to fight a patent-troll, and that’s a patent-troll level challenge.)

      A nano-on-a-wristband is a bad idea, but not for legal reasons.

      (Just as the prior-art/patent defense thing makes no sense; if Samsung has a novel invention, they should patent it, not rush crap to market without a patent, or in addition to a patent.

      If they don’t, they can’t interfere with Apple anyway.)

  • Cowardice, a great majority of tech journalists seems not to be ashamed to wear on their forehead, that is calling Samsung trash, a trash.

  • Sigivald

    If Apple can make Samsung blow a few hundred million (a billion?) dollars on a mess like that just by having a rumor mill, maybe Apple should intentionally make up rumors like that.

  • Exactly why I have no interest in the Gear: it doesn’t better my life in any way.

  • brandi
  • Nikonulous

    It’s funny reading this two years later, and seeing the foolishly misplaced trust in Apple’s design “brilliance”. Now that we’ve seen what they have to offer, and now that we’ve listened to Ive blather on like a lunatic about the genius of putting magnets in the band, would you care to weigh in on what crucial, indispensable utility Apple has graced us with? How about sending your heartbeat to another iWatch wearer? Yeah, how did we ever live without THAT??

    Face it, the Apple Watch is just as fugly, pointless, and peripheral to a paired phone as the Galaxy Gear. Next time, keep an open mind and don’t assume everything that pours from Ive’s head is pure, flawless novelty.

    Anyone who can say otherwise with a straight face is deluded.