The high price point may be a stumbling block for consumers who may balk at buying a watch that costs as much as a smartphone, said Brian Proffitt, an adjunct instructor at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza School of Business.
But there’s a lot of potential in the market going forward, he said. “It’ll be the usual cycle of adoption,” Proffitt said. “The super geeks will come out and pick these things up . . . and if they start to generate that marketing and sales buzz, others will come out with cheaper models.”
Initial moves into the wearables space, such as Samsung’s watch or Google’s connected Glass headset, are likely to be used as accessories rather than stand-alone devices, said Gartner analyst Angela McIntyre.
“They’ll have value as a secondary display to a smartphone,” she said. “The convenience of having something on your wrist is quite valuable and less distracting, for example, if you’re in conversation with somebody.”
While doubts linger about whether Samsung’s device is the one that will prompt a wearable boom, the firm’s willingness to move into more niche markets has thrown up unexpected successes in the past.
A prime example is the Galaxy Note line of smartphones, which sport screens five inches and up, walking the line between a phone and tablet. The device’s large screen and stylus caused some skepticism, but the Note line has sold more than 10 million units worldwide and found particular success in Asia and other growing smartphone markets, where users see the price appeal of combining the two devices.
Samsung unveiled its third version of the Note on Wednesday.
The Note smartphone — well, really a phablet — is “slimmer, lighter and more powerful” than its predecessors, said Shin, the co-chief executive of Samsung Electronics. It also has the Note line’s biggest screen to date: a pocket-stretching 5.7 inches.
For consumers, the company has also focused carefully on how the phone feels — substantial without being too heavy, Shin said. “We’ve really focused on how the Galaxy Note 3 feels in your hand,” he told the crowd.