During MWC last week we experienced plenty of exciting announcements and reveals, but there was one announcement in particular that caught many off-guard, to say the least: Samsung would be taking a break from smartwatches for a while. The reason? According to Samsung, they need time to make their smartwatch "even more perfect".
The announcement naturally followed with plenty of speculation, especially given that Apple’s “Spring Forward” event (which revealed more about the highly anticipated Apple Watch) was quickly approaching. Given how close Samsung and Apple are in competition with each other, accusations that Samsung only wanted to postpone their smartwatch production to copy Apple’s smartwatch were thrown around without hesitation.
I obviously can’t say what the next Samsung smartwatch will be like, but my hope is that Samsung is actually just rethinking the smartwatch as we know it and ends up creating something truly different.
I’ll admit that there’s been more than one occasion where I look at a Samsung or an Apple device and notice that the two share a lot of similar design elements. I don’t think anybody can say that Samsung and Apple devices look nothing alike, but I don’t think Samsung’s plans are to copy Apple’s watch and try to sell it as their own. Not this time around, anyway. I mostly say that because when I look at Apple’s watch, I see a lot of similarities to Samsung’s previous smartwatches.
I think they’re just limited right now, and Samsung is breaking the mold by taking more time than expected to let technology catch up.
Smartwatches are still very much in their infancy, and I think Samsung has the right idea at this point in time. Current little dink donk feature upgrades aren’t going to hold people over for much longer. If Samsung wants to make their smartwatch brand as popular as their smartphone brand, they’re going to have to bring a lot more than that to the table. Smartwatches also have much less space to work with, so I imagine it’s considerably harder to find new and truly innovative ways to change the smartwatch to a point where people will notice them.
It’s a bold move because we’ve come to expect upgrades every single year. It’s a big deal when somebody says they’re taking a break because we just expect companies to have the technology and ideas to make an amazing refresh every year, but sometimes great things take more time than that. Or perhaps this break will turn into more than something temporary – maybe it will become permanent.
That’s a big maybe, but I’m not completely throwing the idea out that maybe Samsung just doesn’t see the smartwatch going where they had initially hoped it would go. Even if you gave a smartwatch fantastic battery life and a way to work without smartphones, would it really be an accessory that people would find necessary? Would most people actually prefer that over a smartphone?
I’m still not completely convinced that smartwatches will ever be a long-lasting gadget. The only one I find myself impressed with is Pebble’s, but even then I still haven’t convinced myself that it’s something that I need or really want. I imagine I’m not the only one who feels that way, but I digress.
It’s impossible to know whether Samsung plans to copy Apple, reinvent the smartwatch, or just drop off from smartwatches entirely, but I think that taking a break right now is probably for the best. Maybe something great will come out of it if the pressure is off.