Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch today, and the reaction from techie types has generally been underwhelming. While The Verge calls it “a smartwatch like no other” — which seems like damning with faint praise considering such devices are just beginning to come to market — the high-tech doohickey is also being derided as a mere toy, a smartwatch in search of a purpose, and a disservice to the word “smart.”
My take? The Samsung Gear has three big vulnerabilities: It’s probably too clunky for mainstream users to wear on their wrists (as Engadget noted), its $300 price tag is far too high for a complementary device, and the fact that it must be tethered to a Samsung Galaxy device seriously limits its appeal.
But the Galaxy Gear certainly won’t be the only smartwatch that will face an uphill battle. In a nutshell, the smartwatch industry faces two big challenges: It must give users good reasons to buy them in addition to the smartphones they already own, and it must do so at a reasonable price. My colleague Mike Wolf presents a great case here explaining why smartwatches could be ideal for the youth market, and as the father of two youngsters I completely agree. But I’m skeptical smartwatches will gain mass-market traction in the near future unless manufacturers can deliver at a much lower price point.