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GADGETS The smartwatch h market is getting fresh competition,competiti writes Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson
Prepare for the return of the e smartwatch.
After a sales spike early this year, fuelled by Apple’s first wearable device, the smartwatch is poised to make ke a comeback, with many major technology companieses lining up to cover your wrist.t.
The IFA technology trade de show in Berlin played host to oa a wave of smartwatch announcements last week.
The success of the current nt smartwatch crop may also be helped along by Android Wear’s new compatibility with Appleple iPhones.
But analysts warn it could take more than new features and greater compatibility for smartwatches to go mainstream, with cheaper prices and more apps needed.
Samsung headed off its IFA rivals by revealing its smartwatch days before the event, showing off its firstround smartwatch, the Gear S2, ahead of its own conference.
But the South Korean tech giant held important details back, later revealing the watch would not only feature a 1.2inch round screen, NFC chip for mobile payments, waterproof body, and a battery life of up to three days, but it would also deliver wireless charging, and could be used by most modern Google Android phones — not just Samsung models.
A second, Gear S2 Classic model, will deliver the same features with a more traditional look, while a third model, yet to be confirmed for an Australian release, will use an e-SIM to operate independently of a smartphone.
Samsung Electronics Australia vice-president Phil Newton said the company’s latest smartwatch had been designed to look more like a typical timepiece.
“It looks and feels like a Samsung’s Gear S2 and (inset) Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch. watch,” he says. “You can control the product with a dial just like a traditional watch.”
The Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic, due in Australia as early as next month, are Samsung’s first smartwatches in a year, after it released the Gear S at IFA in 2014.
But in that time, the world’s biggest smartphone maker has lost leadership of the smartwatch market, with Apple gaining control.
Research firm IDC recently crowned Fitbit king of the wearable technology market with a 24.3 per cent share in the second quarter of the year, followed by Apple with 19.9 per cent. With no recent releases, Samsung fell to fifth position with 3.3 per cent of the market.
But Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi, who predicts Australians will spend $400 million yearly on smartwatches by 2018, says consumers are ready for new products with better features.
“What’s happening is that (Google) Android products have been very weak in the last six months rather than Apple’s product being very strong,” he says. “That kind of market is ripe for innovation.”
Fadaghi predicts interest in smartwatches will grow, particularly at Christmas, but their price may need to drop.
“Many consumers are not willing to pay more than a regular watch for a smartwatch,” he says.
“If you look at the sweet spot, it’s the $200-$300 price bracket. There are parallels with the tablet market. When we saw cheap and cheerful $200 tablets, we saw the tablet market really explode. That also helped people get used to them.”
Fresh competition is also likely to boost their numbers, with smartwatches from Motorola, Huawei, ASUS and TomTom unveiled at IFA.
Motorola’s Moto 360 will be updated with four models, two for men, one for women, and one for fitness enthusiasts. All feature the signature round touchscreen of the first model, with “flat tyre” black border at the bottom of the screen, but a better battery life and, for the Sport, GPS functionality for tracking exercise.
Huawei’s smartwatch comes with a fashion focus, available in several finishes and with a Karlie Kloss campaign and a price up to $1117, while ASUS’s ZenWatch 2 will arrive in two sizes and offer the latest Android Wear software compatible with Apple iPhones.
TomTom’s fitness-focused Spark smartwatch comes with a GPS chip, built-in music player, and activity-tracking apps. Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to Berlin as a guest of Samsung.