Clock Is Ticking on Smartwatches

Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

An attendee demonstrates the Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Gear after the unveiling ahead of the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, on Sept. 4, 2013. Close

An attendee demonstrates the Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Gear after the unveiling... Read More

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Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

An attendee demonstrates the Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Gear after the unveiling ahead of the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, on Sept. 4, 2013.

Only time will tell whether smartwatches, such as the one Samsung introduced yesterday, catch on.

As Neil Mawston at Strategy Analytics told Bloomberg News, "If you see your friend wearing a cool smartwatch on their wrist, you will probably want one, too."

But is the Galaxy Gear cool enough to fork over $299, even if it, uh, might lack a real purpose? For that price, you get a watch with a 1.63-inch screen, 1.9-megapixel camera, 4 gigabytes of internal memory and 512 megabytes of RAM. It links wirelessly to a smartphone to make calls.

For $300 to $350, Qualcomm is also selling a connected wristwatch called Toq. It comes with wireless charging and an always-on screen. The biggest maker of chips for mobile phones is doing this to show off its display technology called Mirasol.

Sony already has its SmartWatch that syncs with Android handsets. The SmartWatch 2 will reach stores this month, and can be used as a second screen for the Xperia Z1 smartphone, Sony said yesterday.

Of course, there's also Apple, which has a team of designers working on a watch-like device, two people familiar with the matter said in February. Apple has sent out invitations to a Sept. 10 event to announce new iPhones, a person familiar with the plans said.

And tech companies aren't the only ones banking on smartwatches amid a market saturation of high-end smartphones. Asian freight airlines, suffering from a traffic slump of six consecutive months, may be able to break their losing streak as device makers rush to deliver their new products from factories in Asia ahead of the Christmas shopping season.

But as always, that will depend on consumers and whether they jump out of bed to buy these smartwatches, or instead, choose to slap the snooze button.

Remember that other wearable device, the Eyetop DVD player? Yeah, we don't either.

This story was first published in Bloomberg's Global Tech Today newsletter. To get an early jump on the top tech news from around the world, sign up for the free weekday report.

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