By Alexandra Burlacu | Mar 19, 2013 10:48 AM EDT
Samsung's Mobile Tech Vice President Lee Young Hee confirms the company is working on its own version of a smartwatch, among other future products.
The South Korean smartphone and tablet maker is a well-known rival of Apple, and the smartwatch confirmation comes amid intensifying rumors that the Cupertino giant is working on an iWatch.
"We've been preparing the watch product for so long," Lee Young Hee, executive vice president, told Bloomberg in a recent interview in Seoul. "We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them."
Lee did not detail the features Samsung plans for the watch, nor how much the product will cost when it eventually goes on sale. The company further plans to unleash three high-end smartphones this year, including the Galaxy S4 it just unveiled and another handset using the Tizen operating system in a bid to better compete with Apple.
More reports about an iWatch started to surface last month, with people familiar with Apple's plans claiming the Cupertino giant has roughly 100 product designers working on a wristwatch-like device that may perform functions similar to the iPad and iPhone.
The global watch industry is expected to generate more than $60 billion in sales this year, and the first companies to dive into this lucrative market with devices that multitask could successfully lock consumers into their platforms, thus boosting sales of phones, tablets and TVs as well.
The mobile phone already saw tremendous advances and smartphones today are basically mini PCs that perform phone functions as well, but the current trend seems to envision the mobile phone as wearable technology.
The $358 billion global market for handsets is already approaching saturation, so it makes sense for both Apple and Samsung to explore new directions and look for new product lines to stay competitive. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, growth in the global handset market will likely grow 9.8 percent in 2017 from 27 percent this year. Last quarter Apple saw the slowest sales growth in more than two years, while Samsung warned of slowing demand in January.
"The issue here is who will first commercialize it so consumers can use it meaningfully," explains Lee.
Samsung dethroned Apple last year to become the world's largest smartphone maker, but the race is far from over. The two tech giants are constantly wrestling for dominance in an increasingly tougher market, and future devices play a huge role in this battle.
Apple reportedly plans to introduce its wristwatch device as soon as 2013, one person familiar with the matter told Bloomberg under condition of anonymity. According to the tipster, Apple's wearable device may include the ability to make calls, see the identity of incoming callers and check map coordinates. The device would also include a pedometer for counting steps, as well as sensors for monitoring health-related data such as heart rates.
Samsung, meanwhile, may be able to take on Apple in the pricing department, as the South Korean giant makes its own displays and chips. Pricing will be a determining factor for wristwatch-like devices, as price can often make or break a product. On the other hand, Apple does have an army of loyal iFans, many of whom are willing to pay significantly more just to have an Apple-branded product.
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