Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch Flops, Fewer than 50,000 Units Sold

| Editorial

Samsung's rush-to-market-to-beat-Apple Galaxy Gear smartwatch has launched with a resounding thud. BusinessKorea reported that Samsung has sold fewer than 50,000 units since it was released in September despite a multimillion dollar marketing campaign.

For its part, Samsung wants the world to know that how many Galaxy Gears it sold isn't nearly as important as the fact that it beat Apple to market, because that's what it means to innovate. MacRumors noted comments from Samsung executive vice president David Eun during BusinessInsider's Ignition conference that seem to be defensive comments about the low sales:

When you're dealing with innovation and when you're dealing with startups, I always make the analogy to small green tomatoes. [...] And what you want to be sure is that you don't pluck the green tomato too early and you want to make sure you don’t criticize a small green tomato for not being a big red ripe tomato. [...] Personally, I don't think enough people gave us the credit for innovating and getting it out there.

OK, fair enough. How about we criticize the Galaxy Gear for being a large, ungainly, and ugly device with limited functionality that Samsung should be embarrassed about having released?

Galaxy Gear

Samsung's Galaxy Gear

The Galaxy Gear is proof that when you design and release a product for the sole reason of being first to market, rather than because it's the right product with the right features at the right price for consumers, you get a dud. No amount of fruit metaphors will change that, and as I noted when Samsung announced this product, the company should stick to seeing what Apple does first so it can copy.

To that end, unnamed mobile device industry associates told BusinessKorea that, "These Samsung products are more of a test than revolutionary. Customers and producers have more interest in Samsung’s next models for release next year."

I'm pretty sure I see a silent and parenthetical "after Apple shows Samsung how to do it correctly," but maybe that's just me.

Also of note is that the Galaxy Round, Samsung's curved phablet that shipped earlier in November, is currently selling fewer than 100 units per day in South Korea, the only market where it was released. All told, it's sold fewer than 10,000 units and is being discontinued.

Another unnamed "industry representative" told BusinessKorea, "The Galaxy Round has a thick center because Samsung has not been able to mass produce curved batteries, and its display is not perfect with additional tempered glass, making the product thick and heavy. It shows no advantages of a flexible smartphone except its grip, which is being used as its only marketing point.'

Remember, though, that what really matters is that Samsung beat Apple to market with a curved device.

Comments

marcsten

I got my hands on one of these sleek beauties (as if) at Best Buy a couple of weeks ago. It really is awful. FUnctionality was miserable, although its sometimes a bt hard to tell on the floor of Best Buy. But the size and weight of the thing was comical. LIke weight training…

LG

I think the problem with Samsung is the way they define innovation, which seems to be, first to market. But as Apple has shown in the past, innovation means: disruptive and game-changing. I mean, MP3 players have been available before the iPod. Same with PCs and smartphones. Innovation in Apple’s books means being able to disrupt a market despite whatever is out there. In that sense, I think Samsung will have accomplished nothing when, or if, the iWatch becomes a reality.

geoduck

I think Samsung will have accomplished nothing when, or if, the iWatch becomes a reality.

Except if Apple’s product has a screen and a band Samsung will sue them for copying their design. IMO that was the real purpose of this POS.

LeFrancoy

Unripened tomato you say David?

I say it is compost at best! You got a loooooong way to go before having a plumb and juicy bright red tomato…

bmovie

A family of three tomatoes were walking downtown one day when the little baby tomato started lagging behind. The big father tomato walks back to the baby tomato, stomps on her, squashing her into a red paste, and says, “Ketchup!”

gnasher729

So where do these rumours come from that Apple supposedly is going to build a huge phone with rounded screen when Samsung is selling 100 a day in South Korea, which should be their strongest selling place in the world?

A good rumour, even if made up, would start with some insight into Apple’s business and what would fit in well with their business. A bad rumour would start with a competitor’s successful product, and assume that Apple would copy such a product (even if it doesn’t fit in with what Apple is doing). This rumour starts with a competitor’s flop, and Apple is supposed to copy that and not know that it is a flop?

wab95

Bryan:

What do you get when you take different body parts, stitch them together, and animate them such that they function in a somewhat integrated manner to simulate a living unit? A chimera. That is what Samsung’s madcap engineers did in the depths of their laboratories; harvesting the vital organs and body parts of the smartphone, the timepiece, the exercise monitor, the phablet, the camera, and whatever else they could think of, in order to create the ‘Frankenwatch’, their own unique version of ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas Shopping Season’.  (Cue: 1950’s era damsel in distress blood curdling scream).

I don’t mean to cruel. Beauty, is after all, in the eye of the beholder, and to the Scarabaeidae a ball of dung is a feast to die for, whilst to the human it’s just…well let’s keep this G-rated. Opinions differ both in nature and amongst members of the same species. After all, 50,000 residents of South Korea (or about 0.1% of the total population) did purchase one of these things.

The problem with a chimera is inherent in its genesis; leaving aside the issue of aesthetics (generally considered hideous), by its very nature a chimera defies categorisation, identification, and if it’s a device, purpose. It is none of the whole creatures from which it is pieced together, creatures which in their native state are in fact symmetrical, beautiful, and fulfil a purpose; but rather imperfect pieces of those creatures that, piecemeal or whole, do not fill any of their niches to satisfaction. What is one to do with this thing? Why does it exist?

The purpose of a well-designed instrument, whose intended function is integral to its conception, is self-evident to the target audience or market. It not only fills a niche, if it is revolutionary, it does so like nothing else. The response from that market is, ‘I want one’, or better yet, ‘I need one’. The mere fact that Samsung’s monster has sold only 50K in the company’s own country is proof that it fills no niche, addresses no need, and therefore, was poorly constructed because it was poorly conceived. Samsung’s team never knew why they were making it; only that they had to beat Apple to market; a truly dung-worthy motive for creating a product.

Samsung’s David Eun is simply wrong, people actually did give Samsung the credit they deserved for this thing, and their verdict was, it’s dung.

jhorvatic

Except Samsung can’t sue because they have a screen and a band. Because regular watches already come with screens and bands. So essentially many watch makers could sue Samsung if that’s the case. Samsung will lose this war because they don’t have what it takes to innovate. They only know how to copy, lie, cheat, and steal everyone else’s ideas and chimera them into what they call there own products.
Apple doesn’t rush to market any of its products. iPod, iPhone, iPad were all years behind what everyone else could come up with. Yet they were all around functionally better in so many ways. What Samsung made was exactly what Bryan said, a frankenwatch. And not a very smart one at that.

mrmwebmax

+

I think Samsung’s miscalculation with Galaxy Gear is that they forgot to look at why people wear watches today—key word, today. This would have been a must-have game-changing product in 1980, when digital watches with built-in calculators were all the rage. Back then, it didn’t matter how ugly a watch was. Instead, it was all a matter of features.

Those days are gone. Watches today are jewelry and fashion statements. And no smart watch looking like a Casio in a swivel display case at Kmart is going to stand a chance. Goodness sake, most of the younger crowd don’t even wear watches. They tell time with their smartphones. (As do I, in a feeble attempt to personally deny my age.)

If Apple and Jony Ive can bring their industrial design sense and make a smart watch that looks like a genuine piece of jewelry, they will be the only ones who stand a chance at making the smart watch a success. Because let’s face it: No boardroom exec would be caught dead wearing an abomination like Galaxy Gear on their wrist that makes then look like a teen in 1982 standing in line to watch Tron.

skipaq

I read somewhere that the 50,000 Galaxy Gear number was for South Korea only. The total worldwide is around 600k.

ctopher

The Verge is reporting 800,000 units in 2 months.
http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/19/5121212/samsung-galaxy-gear-smartwatch-sales-figures

Intruder

@bmovie: nice Pulp Fiction reference.

If this is Samsung’s chimera, what shall be Apple’s Bellerophon?

wab95

If this is Samsung’s chimera, what shall be Apple’s Bellerophon?

Great question, Intruder. It will be something, in my view, that we have neither seen nor guessed at, however by its features and attributes we will know at first glance.

To begin with, to achieve heroic status, this product has to rescue the customer, not from Samsung’s chimera, but from a functional chasm inherent in Apple’s own ecosystem beyond which the consumer hitherto has been unable to pass. This then unmasks the attributes and features (not feature set) of Apple’s Bellerophon, if it is indeed to be a hero.

It will be conceived and designed to address a deficit, however implicit and unsuspected (there are many) in Apple’s ecosystem, that in so doing, will fulfil a need in Apple’s client base. The effect should be such that, for the user, the experience with the ecosystem should be improved, and the range of activities and access to the platform extended beyond its current limits. This means that it must be conceived to not only fulfil a purpose, but to integrate with, and extend the utility of, Apple’s platform. These are its attributes.

Should it address a real need amongst the user base, those with that need will recognise the product’s worth, and both the generalisability of that need and price-point depending, these consumers will want it and purchase it. That will be its feature - popularity and uptake.

Whether or not it cannibalises a legacy product, or replaces one or several piecemeal and over time, is secondary and irrelevant. As new technologies become reliably commercialisable, older technologies and their supported devices will be relegated to obsolescence. This new product, whatever it may be, will be viewed as compelling because of the dual role it plays by solving a problem for the consumer, on the one hand, and filling a gap in the ecosystem and expanding its utility, on the other.

In sum, those will be its attributes and features, in my view.

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