When Samsung’s Galaxy Gear came to market, the reviews were less than stellar. In other words, it was hardly an Apple-like debut. But the smart watch may be hitting the market harder than some expected. Samsung released sales figures for the Gear, reporting more than 800,000 units have shipped since the wearable technology debuted in September.
"It's the most sold wearable watch available in the market place . . . and we plan to expand its availability by expanding devices that work with the Gear," Samsung said in a statement.
What the Gear Actually Does
The Galaxy Gear notifies users of incoming messages, such as calls, texts, e-mails and alerts, delivers a preview of those messages and creates the opportunity for users to accept or discreetly ignore those messages. When an incoming message requires more than a quick glance, users can pick up their Samsung GALAXY devices and the Smart Relay feature will instantly reveal the full content on the screen.
The built-in speaker allows users to conduct hands-free calls directly from the Gear. For example, a user leaving the grocery store, whose hands are full with shopping bags, could still make a call by speaking into the Gear without touching the screen. Users can also draft messages, create new calendar entries, set alarms, and check the weather on the Gear with S Voice.
But although the phone has many compelling features, it failed to overly impress industry reviewers. So is that 800,000 number inflated? We asked Avi Greengart, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, for his take on the data. He told us he’s waiting on clarification from Samsung, but it seems that the number does not reflect how many smart watches consumers have actually purchased.
Putting It Into Perspective
“It’s still a pretty large number. Samsung clearly thinks it’s going to sell well over the holidays once they add Galaxy S4 support. Right now, this is a product that really only works when you are out and about with a Galaxy Note 3,” Greengart said.
Based on Greengart's experience, Samsung has done a fine job marketing the smart watch. When someone sees him wearing a smart watch they ask him if it’s the Galaxy Gear. He called the advertising campaign strong even if most of the reviews were weak.
“Samsung has promised that Galaxy S4 support is coming really soon and that will open up the market to a lot more people who would probably return it if they bought it today,” Greengart said. “Samsung had said early that it would be a limitation and that they are going to expand it to a lot more Galaxys.”
Greengart is betting Samsung’s announcement is a response to some Korean news reports that were listing extremely low sales of the Galaxy Gear. He said if Samsung sells 800,000 smart watches to actual people over the holidays that would be a strong showing.
“By comparison the Pebble smart watch, which is the watch I am wearing now, sold just under 200,000,” he said. “And Pebble is a small company. They don’t have the resources that Samsung does.”