In Its Biggest Health Push Yet And Ahead Of Apple, Samsung Launches New Smartwatches

In a bid to challenge the likes of Apple and Fitbit in the health space, two new fitness-focused smartwatches and a pair of wireless earbuds equipped with its voice assistant Bixby hahs been launched by Samsung.

The three products launched are the Samsung Gear Sport smartwatch, the Gear Fit 2 Pro fitness band and the IconX 2018 wireless Bluetooth earbuds.

a 1.2-inch circular touchscreen, rotating bezel to cycle through options are some of the features of Samsung’s Gear Sport.

A slimmer band with a rectangular face is the Gear Fit 2. The two devices run Samsung’s own operating system called Tizen, as opposed to Google’s Android Wear and both can withstand water up to 50 meters. The IconX 2018 are small earbuds that connect to devices and are a competitor to Apples AirPods.

Tasks like activating Bixby, Samsung’s smart artificial intelligence assistant are some of the tasks that can be carried out with a touch of the earpods of the IconX. Earlier this year, Bixby was launched with the Samsung Galaxy S8 flagship smartphone.

Samsung’s biggest foray into health and fitness yet is marked by the device launch. S Health app, which is a central hub to monitor fitness, as well as bringing out a slew of wearables is about the only that the company had dabbled with to date.

But with its latest push, many of the leading players in the wearable market like Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Apple are the targets of a challenge. The announcement which took place at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, Germany, saw partnerships emerging as a key part.

In order to enable people to download songs onto their Gear Sport or Gear Fit 2 to listen offline, Samsung has struck a deal with Spotify. That means people can listen to music even without a phone while they go for a run. This is the first time it has been made usable on a wearable even though the feature has been available on the smartphone app version of Spotify.

People will also be able to use them when swimming since the smartwatches are water resistant up to 50 meters.

Samsung has trailed behind rivals even though wearables haven’t really taken off as many expected. IDC data showed that growing over 90 percent year-on-year, holding 5.5 percent market share, Samsung shipped 1.4 million wearables in the first quarter of 2017. Apple has more than 14 percent market share in contrast.

It is expected that Apple would unveil its next generation Watch at the tech giant’s September event, but Samsung could get a foot up by launching its products ahead of the Apple launch.

While expecting that further health applications could drive the market forward, DJ Koh, the company’s mobile chief acknowledged the market hadn’t exploded.

“If we can put in place properly a smartwatch that can monitor everything for your health and provide the information, then the market will grow,” Koh said.

The likes of Fitbit, Garmin, and TomTom who have focused very heavily on fitness would be worried by Samsung’s health push, analysts said.

“I think there is a general concern that the Swiss army watch smartwatch which is all things to everyone isn’t grabbing the attention of consumers. There is no question the fitness and health dimension is proving to be successful. It has worked well with Apple,” Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, said.

(Adapted from CNBC)


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