Samsung is making plans to introduce a new Smartwatch that can work standalone, untethered from the phone, says a report from WSJ. After having released 4 different models of wearable devices already, Samsung is planning to take it to a direction where some smaller companies have already started heading towards, which is the idea of a “Smart watch-phone”. We already heard some rumours of a Gear 2 solo, the independent smartwatch that was reportedly in the works, and the WSJ report could just be a confirmation of the smartwatch of another kind. Yes, it will be different. This kind of a smartwatch is literally a miniature phone on your wrist, which can be used to perform most of the general duties of a modern smartphone, including taking calls, checking mails, the ability to have internet connected apps and so forth. Samsung pursuing this direction could be the desire to be a pioneer in a new category of devices, for a market that’s already been used to this idea in science fiction plots one too many.
Taking calls on your wrist, which was achieved only in sci-fi movies, was implemented to a certain extent on Samsung’s own Gear Smartwatch. All the Gear devices are (sorry) geared to work with a Samsung smartphone, but the new unannounced watch will try to do something daring. It will try to completely replace your personal computing device, the smartphone. Sounds like an utter failure already, doesn’t it? Right now, yes, it does seem so, but the market reaction could be very different, based on different factors. Samsung may, or may not know this already, but the watch, if priced right, could be seen as the newest form of a featurephone. There are a lot of us who would happily trade the subjective fringe benefits of a smartphone off, for a more limited experience, that would in no way affect us. The watch would certainly offer more features than a conventional featurephone, tending to our limited needs, but again, the price will be deciding factor of this fate.
But even otherwise, Samsung’s device would be deemed to take the position as a user’s smartphone. It will have its own SIM slot, a number, its own whatsapp account, and would perform quasi-smartphone activities. This cannot happen without a strong case, and Samsung knows that. But Samsung, the Korean company, is known for taking risks in this direction. There has already been a watchphone from Samsung, going by the name of SPH-WP10, which released way back in 1999. Predictably, it was killed citing lack of demand. But the market has changed, a lot.
As mentioned earlier, smaller companies have already dished out Android powered smartwatches, a popular one being the Neptune Pine, which crowd funded 700,000$ more than the intended target of a 100,000$ goal on Kickstarter. The product finished its funding on December 22nd, but still hasn’t shipped a finished product to its backers yet. There are quite a lot of technological hurdles, which are detailed by the company in its page updates, like the cancellation of NFC, CDMA among other things. Samsung could easily solve these problems, if it happened to them, and the main takeaway here is a lot of people are interested in the Pine. There is certainly a market for these kinds of devices, and like the Pine, if priced at around 200$, they have potential.
It is now well known that Apple is planning to release a smartwatch too, but it too will depend on the iPhone as a communication medium, being based on the idea of a Smartphone companion, whereas Samsung is taking it in a direction which most other companies are not willing to take. This is definitely a bold bet for the company, which also plans to use its own homegrown Tizen OS for its Smartwatch-phone. The operating system had a tumultuous past with Nokia and Intel in the mix, but now it is completely Samsung, which had plans to release smartphones based on the operating system, but decided otherwise later. Now, the OS runs on all of its smartwatches (the Gear will get an update) and will soon be featured in some of its home appliances too. With Android wear falling into the same idea as a Smartphone companion, Samsung would have obviously looked at Tizen for their new watch. Ultimately, Samsung has decided not to concede control to a different company this time around.