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PHONES / INDUSTRY

Gear Wars: Samsung's "Huge" Opportunity

By Oonagh Reidy | Wednesday | 18/09/2013

It has cornered the mobile market but now Samsung is looking for a new edge.

"We're excited" said Tyler McGee, Samsung VP Telecommunications at launch of Gear smartwatch yesterday, a companion device to Note 3, and soon, Galaxy S3 and S4. 

He says demand will be widespread for the device that acts as your smartphone's bestie. 

"When you look at the way it interacts with Note 3, Galaxy S3, S4... we see [demand] as being broad, its a companion device," McGee told CN.  

McGee alluded to the "sizeable" install base from Samsung mobiles, so Galaxy Gear has "huge potential" for the world's biggest mobile maker. 

Fashionistas, tech savvy broader audience, music fans, those who want easy access to their device, don't want to take it out of their pocket, briefcase, will all want 1.6" Gear smartwatch, he believes.

This number "will only grow", Samsung VP says, as app developers get their head around new smartwatch applications. 

Gear displays all the important info you need from your phone, runs 60 apps which you can customise, prioritise, he pointed out. It can be used as sporting, music device and is "great" for tracking health and wellbeing. 

But at $369 is Gear is a bit too pricey, considering Sony's second gen SmartWatch is under $200?

Gear is "good value for money for what it is" with good quality camera (albeit 1.9mp), screen, makes phone calls without taking it out of your bag. "Its very competitive", he insists. 

But its not just Sony SmartWatch that Samsung Gear is up against. Jawbone's UP watch released this year got plenty of attention for its health friendly specs and Apple is rumoured to be jumping on the watch wagon, soon.   

There will be other rivals coming to the market too, he predicts as vendors look to get a piece of the 'connected' accessories market.

Analysts predict demand for 'wearable tech' to rocket - the Aussie smart phone accessories, smart watches and glasses market, will exceed $1 billion by 2016, according to Telsyte.

Gear went on sale in Samsung stores just yesterday so its too early to gauge demand.  

Is price of Gear likely to come down?

"Its first generation device so who knows," says McGee. 

When asked about other smart 'Gear' to come, Samsung VP Telecommunications simply said "watch this space". 

But he added: "we see the wearable segment of the marketplace is only going to grow". "It's an opportunity to expand today's smartphone market with connected companion devices". 

Vodafone announced yesterday it is bundling Samsung Note 3 with Gear for $80 ($65 plan + $10 Note 3 + $5 for Gear), making it a more affordable accessory. 

Optus is selling Gear separately for $369, and it appears so is Telsta. 

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