Yesterday afternoon, Re/Code said that Apple had moved its plans to announce the iWatch in October and will instead reveal the wearable during Apple's planned press conference on Sept. 9, where it's also expected to introduce two models of the iPhone 6. Within mere hours of that news hitting, Samsung and LG pushed out press releases announcing new smartwatches. Coincidence?
I don't think so.
I think Samsung and LG wanted to take the spotlight briefly with new devices, which were likely going to be announced at IFA anyway. There's a deeper problem here, though: both of these companies just released new smartwaches. Are we just guinea pigs and beta testers for Samsung and LG? It sure seems so, and these companies are iterating on products so quickly that early adopters, real fans of both firms, are getting the short end of the stick here. You and I, the consumers, the gadget fans who actually look forward to buying these products and then, ultimately, regret our buying decisions when they don't live up to our expectations.
I just bought an LG G Watch in June, which I think was one of my worst buying decisions in the past few years. Its display is awful, the battery life is terrible and the whole product feels slapped together just so LG had something to show during Google I/O. I don't even wear it anymore and instead prefer an analog watch. Android Wear is in its infancy and I'm sure it will get better with time, so I'm not blaming anything on the software, I'm pointing to rushed products.
Now, just two months after releasing the G Watch, LG has a superior product with the G Watch R, which offers a metal body, a P-OLED display that's apparently viewable under sunlight and with superior viewing angles and a much classier design. Why wasn't this product the one that LG brought to market first? Samsung, meanwhile, just launched its sixth smartwatch. It runs Tizen, just like Samsung's Gear Fit, Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, which were only announced back in February. It's at least different from those products, offering a unique display and the ability to actually place and receive phone calls without the need for a smartphone. Still, six smartwatches? How many people does it think are actually going to buy these things at such a rapid pace?
I can't help but think both companies are trying to flood the market with products to grab early market share, to say they were among the first to the market and to get some sort of grasp on the industry ahead of Apple's iWatch. That's a problem though, because I don't think any of these products represent the full potential of the companies that are building them.
What if Samsung put all of the time it put into six smartwatches and built a single, really premium device? What if LG didn't launch the G Watch in June and just spent the effort in the G Watch R, to instead offer the best product possible out of the gate? That's how this should work, but it doesn't and, again, we're the ones that end up in the mud.
People often wonder why it is that Apple has such a "premium" brand in the market and why it has such dedicated fans who line up for its products. It's because Apple doesn't pull these kind of hijinks – at least not often. I'm not here to toot Apple's horn, and the iWatch might be terrible when it launches, but I also don't see it just pushing products out the door every two months. In fact, Apple's been in the spotlight this year for not releasing enough products.
Maybe it's just me, but I felt like I was punched in the gut last night when LG announced the G Watch R. Why did I even bother buying the G Watch in the first place? I trust LG and I trust Samsung to build really great products the first time, but it's hard to keep that kind of mentality when both companies pull the rug out from under me months later. Should I buy the G Watch R? Or what about Samsung's next smartwatch? I don't know anymore, because I fear that both firms will just reveal a better product two months later. I don't want to be a beta tester, and I don't think you as our readers should be beta testers either.
I don't see either firm slowing down, mostly because I think LG and Samsung are fighting against one another, too. But if the iWatch nails it, and folks are lining up for that and not the G Watch R or the latest Samsung Gear product, maybe they'll understand why.
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