Home Samsung’s Smart Move: No More Smartwatches

Samsung’s Smart Move: No More Smartwatches

Samsung executive vice president Young-hee Lee has revealed the company’s smartwatch strategy moving forward: Don’t release any. Speaking with the Wall Street Journal at Mobile World Congress, Lee explained Samsung’s new strategy regarding watches simply:

We’ve been introducing more devices than anybody else. It’s time for us to pause. We want a more perfect product.

King Of The Molehill

Lee isn’t exaggerating about how many smartwatches have come out of Samsung over the last couple of years. After diving into the wearable space with the first Galaxy Gear in September 2013, Samsung went wearable crazy. The next year saw the release of the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, Gear Fit, Gear Live, and Gear S. But while Samsung blanketed the market with products, not one of the six devices have managed to catch on in a big way.

The Gear Fit, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear 2 – only half of Samsung’s smartwatch offerings since 2013.

Strategy Analytics reported last May that Samsung owned 71 percent of the smartwatch market at that time—but that translated into sales of only 500,000 watches out of 700,000. That’s sort of like being declared Emperor of Rhode Island, a grand title for a teeny kingdom. And during the same period, rival analysts Canalys declared Pebble the smartwatch leader with 35 percent of the market, with Samsung trailing behind with a 23 percent stake.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s mobile division posted shrinking profits and disappointing Galaxy S5 sales. With the Galaxy S6, Samsung has scaled back its attempts to cram every conceivable (and half-baked) feature into its smartphones. Based on Lee’s wish for Samsung to make “a more perfect product,” it looks like the company is taking a similar tack with its wearables.

Waiting For Apple To Make Its Move

Even though Samsung has decided to pull back on releasing any and every smartwatch it can think of, that doesn’t mean that it’s out of the game for good. Far from it, in fact. Patents for a Samsung-designed, round-faced smartwatch have turned up over the last few months, with recent rumors suggesting that a device supposedly codenamed “Orbis” would make an appearance at MWC this week.

An image culled from Samsung’s patent filing.

That obviously didn’t happen, but clearly Samsung’s working on something. With the debut of Apple’s first wearable looming, Samsung may be hitting the brakes to ensure a more strategic release. After all, excitement and interest in smartwatches will be at their highest once consumers have a chance to buy the Apple Watch.

Samsung will undoubtedly want to ride that wave, not unlike their strategy with their previous Galaxy smartphone offerings. There’s no better way to show you’re competing on the same level as the hottest new product than to constantly compare yourself to it. Don’t be surprised to see commercials this spring showing Samsung smartwatch wearers smugly comparing their devices’ superiority to all those silly Apple Watches.

Images courtesy of Samsung; patent image retrieved from WIPO

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