Samsung is laying ground for big, competitive moves this fall with two new devices that could amp up its rivalry with Apple.
Samsung executives have said the company plans to release a smartwatch and a new version of its big-screen Galaxy Note smartphone ahead of a major mobile conference next month in Germany.
The launch comes ahead of Apple’s expected Sept. 10 event to unveil its next version of the iPhone and possibly a cheaper Apple phone to compete with other smartphones with a lower price tag. The move would heat up the competition between Apple and the Korean firm, which leads the world in smartphone shipments but which, like Apple, faces questions about sinking profitability.
It’s a problem facing many companies that make top-tier smartphones. As the markets for high-end smartphones hit close to a saturation point, it’s become harder for firms to pick up easy growth. To compensate, companies have had to start lowering their price points, particularly in emerging smartphone markets such as China. Analysts have linked that price competition to the growing popularity of the devices.
In an effort to stay on top, Samsung has said it will be jumping on the next wave of consumer tech — the wearables market. According to a Tuesday Korea Times interview with Samsung’s executive vice president of mobile, Lee Young-Hee, the firm will release a smartwatch called the “Galaxy Gear” on Sept. 4 in Berlin in the run-up to the annual industry IFA conference. The device will not sport any of the flexible screen technology that the tech titan showed off at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, though Lee said the features have been considered for future prototypes.
Analysts forecast that sales for wearable devices such as smartwatches, smart headsets and Internet-connected clothing could hit 9.6 million worldwide by the end of 2016. Samsung will likely have plenty of company in the smartwatch market. Kickstarter darling Pebble has already launched its namesake watch, and firms including Apple and Google are rumored to be considering similar devices.
The news report also said that Samsung is also planning to raise the curtain on the next version of its Galaxy Note “phablet” line, and rumor has it that the firm will again bump up the phone’s specs. The current version of the phone has a 5.5-inch display, and tech blogs, including CNET Asia, have reported that the screen on the next version could grow to 5.7 inches. Samsung has already announced a 6.3-inch phone, the Galaxy Mega, so that rumored, pocket-stretching, 5.7-inch screen wouldn’t even be the company’s biggest.
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