Skip to main content

Who needs a Samsung smartwatch anyway?

By Jeff Kagan, Special to CNN
updated 1:41 PM EDT, Thu September 5, 2013
  • Samsung has launched its smartwatch which it is calling the Galaxy Gear
  • Technology analyst Jeff Kagan says the wireless industry reinvents itself every few years
  • The smartwatch will connect and communicate with Galaxy phones and tablets
  • So does anyone need it? Kagan says we need to wait and see -- we might be surprised

Editor's note: Jeff Kagan is a technology industry analyst who writes on wireless, telecom, cable TV, internet, consumer electronics and tech. Follow him on Twitter.

London (CNN) -- Samsung just launched their next, new, big time product. It's the Galaxy Gear smartwatch. Are you kidding? What the heck is a smartwatch anyway? Who needs it? Are we simply going too far? Do we really need yet one more piece of technology to carry around? Well the answer is yes, and you may be surprised why.

I have been an industry analyst following the wireless industry since its beginning. I have have followed and commented on many companies and technologies over nearly 30 years. I have learned quite a bit over this time.

One of the key points I have learned is this: The wireless industry reinvents itself every few years. And the smartwatch revolution is getting ready to sweep across and transform the wireless industry once again.

Jeff Kagan
Jeff Kagan

Read more: Apple doesn't need to copy Samsung

Years ago the networks transformed from analog to digital, opening the door to all these amazing devices and services we use today. The smartphone was born. Back then, Blackberry and Nokia led.

Then, six years ago, the Apple iPhone and Google Android entered the picture and transformed the industry once again. The super-smart-phone was born. The tablet was next. Mixed in all that noise, the cloud was born.

The smartwatch revolution is getting ready to sweep across and transform the wireless industry
Jeff Kagan

Suddenly the marketplace leaders have changed. Today they are Apple with the iPhone and iPad, Google Android and Samsung with the Galaxy smartphones and tablets.

The last few years have been quiet. This year will be different. Suddenly we are seeing new thinking and new technology that will be just as popular entering the marketplace and capturing the headlines.

The Samsung smartwatch is not a stand-alone device. Rather it connects and communicates with the Galaxy phones and tablets.

Read more: The most indestructible meme in tech

Why do we need a watch? Well the smartphone is growing in importance to many of us. Yesterday we wouldn't leave the house without taking our keys, wallet and smartphone. Tomorrow all we'll have to grab is the smartphone.

It will open our doors and start our cars, it will have credit card information and drivers license and pictures and all sorts of other goodies. It will let us communicate with our doctors, our car, retail stores and so on.

In that world we'll be pulling out our smartphone all the time. It will get to be a real pain in the neck. That's where the smartwatch comes into the picture.

JK Shin, head of Samsung Mobile Communications, presents the Samsung Galaxy Gear in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday, September 4, 2013. Browse through the other contenders battling it out for a place on your wrist. JK Shin, head of Samsung Mobile Communications, presents the Samsung Galaxy Gear in Berlin, Germany on Wednesday, September 4, 2013. Browse through the other contenders battling it out for a place on your wrist.
The battle of the smartwatches
Photos: Battle of the smartwatches Photos: Battle of the smartwatches

Samsung introduced the first smartwatch. It will communicate with their smartphone and their tablet. You can see how many emails, text messages, postings on social sites and more you are getting. You can even read them on the watch if you choose.

You'll have access to your calendar and all sorts of apps based on what you want to see on the watch. It's up to you. But it all works together over the cloud.

Photos: Battle of the smartwatches

The smartwatch will be your remote control for your smart phone. And your smart phone will be your remote control for your life. What a beautiful world.

So let me ask you a question. If you have all these devices, where do you store your data? We used to synch everything with our laptops, but going forward we'll synch to the cloud.

That's right, like it or not, the cloud is in your future. It's the center of the universe.

Watch more: Could an iWatch make Apple cool again?

Sure there are risks. You have to protect your data like you do on your laptop. And you have to hope the bad guys don't invade the cloud services that will start popping up all over the place.

I think customers will love this smartwatch, the same way they love the tablets, smartphones, computers and the cloud
Jeff Kagan

But one way or another, the cloud is in your future.

So Samsung wants you to buy a Samsung smartwatch to talk with your Samsung Galaxy smartphone that talks with your Samsung Galaxy tablet and you can store all your information on the Samsung cloud or Google cloud.

The benefit to Samsung and Google is the more pieces of the puzzle you buy from them, the more they've got you. And they want to get you.

What about Apple? They reserved the name iWatch a while back and we expected them to introduce their new device first. This time however Samsung beat Apple to the punch.

Will Apple introduce their iWatch? I say yes. Whether it's next week or in the near future I do think Apple will jump into the same smart watch space. It's the next wireless frontier.

Then, we have to ask, what's coming next? Quite a bit, actually. And it will all be linked together over the cloud.

Can the smartwatch really compete in an already crowded market of mobile devices or will customers reject it? Without hesitation, yes.

Is this a gamble on Samsung's part? Well, on one hand, every new innovative idea is a gamble. But I think this will be a big success and get bigger over time. Just like with the tablets.

The whole idea here is for companies like Samsung, Google and Apple to build an environment that both captivates and captures their audience. The cloud will be the core technology that will tie all these innovative ideas together.

I think customers will love this smartwatch, the same way they love the tablets, smartphones, computers and the cloud. This is just one more piece of the puzzle that attracts and retains more customers. And companies will love it as well because it creates a tighter relationship with each customer.

So who needs this new smartwatch? Just wait and see how successful it becomes over the next few years. You will be very surprised.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 11:37 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Cyprus, the tiny Mediterranean island bailed a year ago, is starting to rebuild itself, the finance minister tells CNN.
updated 7:57 AM EDT, Thu March 13, 2014
Mobile World Congress spans the full spectrum of untethered gadgetry Explore this year's top trends with Stuff Magazine Editor Will Findlater.
updated 8:03 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
CNN's John Defterios says India's election race will likely boil down to three simple numbers: growth, inflation and interest rates.
updated 7:07 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
More than a million Londoners live in flatshares. And while this used to be associated with students, more mature people find themselves sharing.
updated 6:50 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Nina Dos Santos visits Baselworld the world's most prestigious event for top jewelry and watch brands.
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
Will Xi Jinping's historic visit to the European Union headquarters help the Chinese leader get what he needs from the EU?
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
Binnaz Saktanber says many feel trapped between their brains, telling them to leave Turkey, and hearts, which tell them to stay.
updated 6:57 AM EDT, Tue April 1, 2014
"I thought I'd sold it," says Norwegian man who left luxury boat in marina two years -- with keys tied to railings. What happened?
updated 6:27 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
The United Kingdom is champagne's biggest export market. CNN's Isa Soares reports on what's driving sales.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed March 26, 2014
"Sorry, I don't go south of the river," was once a common refrain from London taxi drivers. Not anymore. South London is booming.
updated 2:34 PM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
The list of Russians targeted by Western sanctions includes people from Vladimir Putin's inner circle -- including his judo sparring partner.
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue March 25, 2014
Her passion for public speaking and networking have earned Julia Hobsbawm the moniker "queen of networking." What is her secret?
Google Glass is trying to shed its public relations problem of a nerdy image by teaming up with the company behind Ray-Bans and Oakley sunglasses.
updated 9:37 AM EDT, Mon March 24, 2014
European leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss further sanctions against Russia. But they are likely to be cautious. Here is why.