Electronics giant Samsung has unveiled its first smartwatch – a web-enabled device that can take calls, view photos or access instant messaging.
The launch of the Galaxy Gear means Samsung – currently the world’s best-selling smartphone maker – has beaten its rivals Microsoft, Apple and Google to bringing such a device to the market.
The watch, unveiled at the IFA expo in Berlin, is expected to cost around €220.
“I am positively surprised,” said Berliner Rafael Ctier. “I was surprised at how small it was. I though it would have been much bigger, more clumpy and not as elegant to wear. It is surprisingly elegant, but it depends on the price. One has to see what it costs. I am not prepared to pay more than 150 or 200 euros.”
Chris Green, principal technology analyst at the consultancy Davies Murphy Group said in a blog post: “The introduction of the Galaxy smartwatch comes as no surprise to the industry, which has been expecting Samsung to beat the likes of Apple – as well as watchmakers and other consumer electronics companies – to market.
“Consumers might be a bit disappointed to find that the smartwatch is a partner device reliant on being paired with a Samsung Android smartphone or tablet, rather than being the completely autonomous media and communications device many consumers were expecting and hoping for.”
Market analysts say over five million smartwatches are likely to be sold in the next year but they won’t all be Samsung’s.
Apple and Google are also widely believed to be working on “wearables” such as wrist-worn devices, in what analysts expect to be the next phase of the mobile communications boom. The exploration of such wearable-computing devices has accelerated in recent years as smartphone growth has tapered off.