Samsung’s Galaxy Gear: Doomed to Fail

| Analysis

Samsung's new Galaxy Gear smartwatch may have had a longer life as a rumor than it will as a shipping product. Samsung jumped the gun to beat Apple to market with a serious contender in the smartwatch game, and the company made several compromised and a fatal flaw: the Galaxy Gear is a US$300 accessory.

Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch is a setup for failureSamsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch is a setup for failure

The Galaxy Gear is a smartwatch running Google's Android 4.3 operating system. That's a capable OS, and it's set on top of a device with a 320 x 320 1.63-inch touch display, 4GB of storage and 512MB RAM, built-in accelerometer and gyroscope, a built-in speaker and microphone, a 1.9 megapixel camera, and Bluetooth 4.0.

Packing all of that into something on your wrist takes space, and it shows. As The Mac Observer's own Bryan Chaffin noted, "it is ungainly, awkward, and grossly fat." Measuring in at more than a centimeter thick, the Galaxy Gear looks like a brick on all but the biggest of wrists.

For some people that won't matter, but it's size and shape will be a big turn off for plenty -- especially people with smaller wrists and hands. Despite the fact that the Galaxy Gear is available in several colors, it's market will primarily be men who would probably be just as happy if their only color choice was black.

Samsung says the watch sports a 25-hour battery life. That means you can't travel far from power outlets if you plan on using one all the time. If it's also your wakeup alarm, you better not forget to charge it every day, which sometimes isn't as easy as it sounds when you're on the road.

Performance is an issue, too. Based on the demonstrations so far, the display isn't nearly as responsive to taps and swipes as it should be. Sluggish performance in touch-based devices is a cardinal sin. When the display lags behind your gestures, you're pulled out of the experience and that leads to frustration. People stop using touch devices that frustrate them, and that's exactly what's going to happen with the Galaxy Gear.

What Samsung has done is rush to market with a product that doesn't feel complete, is bulky and clunky, has poor battery life, and sluggish performance. As if that isn't enough to doom the Galaxy Gear to failure, Samsung also designed it as an accessory to the Galaxy Note 3 and the 2014 version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (2014 edition).

By designing a product that's tethered to specific Galaxy smartphone and tablet models, Samsung has exponentially reduced its potential smartwatch customer base. That's a mistake I don't see Apple making.

I've held that Apple won't release a smartwatch if it requires other devices for basic functionality. Apple's device will be a stand-alone device that gains enhanced functionality when used along with other Apple products. Think Apple TV: It works great all on its own, but is even more useful when you have a Mac or an iPad as well.

By making Apple TV -- and for that matter, the iPhone and iPad -- fully functional stand-alone products, Apple opened itself to a much broader market. That's exactly what it will do with wearable tech, and especially its rumored smartwatch.

Maybe this should've been Samsung's smartwatchMaybe this should've been Samsung's smartwatch

I have a personal blog where I joked about some guy I saw wearing his Samsung smartphone on his wrist. Yes, it was big and clunky, and it looked ridiculous. The irony is that while wearing your smartphone on your wrist is cumbersome, at least he had the full functionality of his phone without spending an extra $300 on a spare screen.

Maybe Samsung should've made designer wristbands for its smartphones instead. The profit margins probably would've been higher and they're a much more affordable accessory. Instead, they went with a rushed to market smartwatch that ultimately will be a black eye for the company.

Comments

geoduck

I honestly don’t think they expect it to succeed. As I suggested below Brian’s article I think they created this so they could sue Apple. They stuck everything they could think of on this chimera so that if Apple releases an iWatch with any function even vaguely like one on the Gear they can sue Apple for IP infringement.

This is not a product, it’s a legal benchmark. It makes Samsung only slightly better than a patent troll.

Jeff Gamet

You may very well be right, and your use of “chimera” is absolutely AWESOME.

FlipFriddle

I’m actually hoping that the whole iWatch thing is an Apple red herring meant to distract the competition while they go in another direction. If this turns out to be the case, this could be one of the greatest practical jokes of all time.

Do not underestimate the allure of a giant watch. The Six Pound Watch is a staple of douchebags around the globe as any regular reader of Hot Chicks With Douchebags would know. smile

Jamie

Those have been my thoughts too, they don’t care how many they sell, the lawsuits would be their real pay day. I think it would be the sweetest of sweet ironies if Apple’s iWatch turned out to be something other than a watch. . . wink

I don’t understand the current trend of ginormi-fying everything either. I don’t want to wear goggles and a headset 24/7 (or for any length of time, honestly. I got contact lenses because glasses are burdensome, however they might speak to a person’s sense of tech-infused debonaire or whatever. Remember the non-prescription hipster specs of the early 2000s? Silliness), or strap a brick to my arm. That all may appeal to (yes, they are mainly male) dudes still stuck in their pubescent fantasies of VR warriors or the character they rolled up in Cyberpunk (yes, they are mainly males that do not get girls), but I’ll pass.

Thing that was initially appealing about the iPhone was how unobtrusive and simple it appeared at first glance. It was lightweight, fit easily into a pocket, and yow, was it powerful for it’s time. I remember when with each passing keynote during the iPod’s heyday it looked like Apple was just shooting their stuff with a shrink ray and rolling it out at WWDC over the summer. There is something fundamental that the Googles and Samsungs of the world fail to grasp - these products will be used by human beings, and that it’s mainly the adult variety that can afford to drop that kind of coin on that kind of gear. I want form to follow function and for that function to be powerful considering the premium we are asked to pay for it.

geoduck

Jeff:
Thanks, but I have to admit that wab95 first used chimeric for the Gear.

Lee Dronick

Apple’s invitation reads “This should lighten up your day.” That could mean an Apple WristPhone that isn’t bulky and heavy.

As to Samsung being first. Does Apple have patents for wrist devices, gesture control, and such that could prove they had it first?

Aftermac

Lee, here is a patent application that Apple filed for earlier this year…

http://appft1.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=/netahtml/PTO/search-adv.html&r=16&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1;=(apple.AS.+AND+20130221.PD.)&OS=an/apple+and+pd/2/21/2013

James Kindle

Samsung Galaxy Gear review know more visit http://trendsavkv.blogspot.in/2013/09/samsung-galaxy-gear-review.html

samfam

“This is not a product, it’s a legal benchmark. It makes Samsung only slightly better than a patent troll.”

Wow, that must be it… They are genuinely incapable of designing anything cool at all. They learned how to expose their name by copying, suing and making fuss everywhere. Apple should NOT be even compared to Samsung in the first place. They essentially reside in totally different levels. Samsung design capability is far less than that of Sony, HTC and many other. But Samsung’s way of playing dirty game is first class.

Lee Dronick

Thanks Aftermac, this could get interesting. Well it almost certainly will get interesting.

xmattingly

Lee, the invitation is actually “this should brighten your day”; but even so that’s an interesting thought. What IF Apple decided to use this event to introduce a whole new product category, in tandem with iPhone upgrades? If priced right with a complimentary feature set to other iOS devices - and if the lower cost iPhone were reasonably priced - I could definitely see an iWatch finding its niche as an upsell product.

Anyway, regardless of the origination, I agree that “chimera” is a very apt description for the Samsung watch. Boy howdy, is that thing gruesome. smile

Lee Dronick

Thanks Xmattingly. My dog ate my invitiation and I couldn’t remember exactly what it said. Anyway, I am anxious to see what Apple announces next week.

gnasher729

geoduck, there’s one thing wrong with your argument: Releasing a product doesn’t give you any rights to sue about any IP infringement. Apple didn’t sue Samsung for copying iPhone features, but for infringing on patents. They didn’t sue for making a product that looked like an iPhone or iPad, but for making a product that looked like Apple’s design patent on an iPhone or iPad.

Spruce Cycle

Apple cultist are so prissy: “Oh, my god! He’s carrying a larger phone than I am and this impinges on my already pointed sense of inferiority so I must prop up my failing ego by making up arguments that 3.5in screen size is the best for everyone!”

On Sept. 10th Apple Computer will release what they always do: an unexciting, small device with rows and rows of icons that do nothing but tell u it’s warm and 72 in Cupertino. Where most of us do NOT live.

The first mover advantage Apple had has been erased; boring iOS can’t cut it in a widget world.

gnasher729

Spruce Cycle: What you posted there about phone sizes is called “projection”. It’s a psychological phenomenon where people attribute their own failings to others. In your case, an obsession with phone sizes (I wonder if there is already a clinical term for this), and an inferiority complex.

And Samsung just found out to their cost that to have a first mover advantage you have to move first, and you have to have a product that is at least a tiny bit desirable.

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