Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd (KSE:005930) took the spotlight by introducing its $299 known as Galaxy Gear smart watch during the IFA consumer tech conference in Berlin today.
The South Korean electronics manufacturer said the Samsung Galaxy Gear will be available in 140 countries on September 25, but consumers in Japan and United States will have to wait for the smartwatch until October.
The Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch is powered by Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system with a 1.6-inch OLED screen, integrated with a camera, microphone and it has a battery life of 10 hours.
Pranav Mistry, Think Tank director at Samsung Electronics described the Galaxy Gear as “wearable, comfortable and a little bit sci-fi.”
The smartwatch allows users to make and receive calls, check messages, e-mails without taking their phones out of their pockets or purse. Users can also take pictures and create calendar entries, check the weather, and set alarms using voice commands.
The device can perform these functions when it is link to the new Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphone and Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, which were also revealed on Wednesday.
The Galaxy Gear comes with a pedometer and fitness apps such as RunKeeper that tracks running and other workout activities and MyFitnessPal, a calorie counter and activity tracker. According to Samsung Electronics, the smartwatch supports more than 70 apps.
Samsung co-CEO J.K. Shin proudly said that the Galaxy Gear will become the “new fashion icon around the world.” He added, “We had smartwatch-type products before, but they were mainly for making phone calls. What’s different with the Gear is it’s got far more useful functions. It’s usability has increased significantly and design is not bulky.”
Mobile industry analyst, Jeff Kagan believed that Samsung Electronics will also experience success with the Galaxy Gear. In a note to the press, Kagan wrote, “Samsung is pushing the innovation envelope. This smart watch will be as popular and successful as their smart phone and tablet. And it will all work together.”
On the other hand, Carolina Milanesi, analysts at Gartner expressed a different view particularly on innovation. She said, “The watch is smart, but not as smart as it could be. It doesn’t look like Samsung pushed the envelope as much as I hope Apple will. Right now, it looks like [Gear] will just provide you with an extra screen that is more convenient to look at than to have to take out a larger device. I don’t think that’s what consumers want.”
Take note that Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) also introduced its ‘Toq’ smartwatch with a touch-enabled color screen and capable of handling messages, phone calls, and playing music.