Talking tech since 2003

That Samsung—the world’s most successful gadget maker not named Apple—has been working on a smartwatch is no secret. The above image is actually a concept image for a possible smartwatch called Proxima, commissioned by the company back in 2009 from designer Johan Loekito. Recently, it’s been discovered that the likely name of this device is the Galaxy Gear, and that it would be, like the Pebble and Sony SmartWatch before it, a miniaturized companion device designed to work with smartphones. However, a Bloomberg report this morning says that the Galaxy Gear may, in fact, be an all-in-one, wrist-mounted smartphone—no pocket-based gadget required.

The post says that Samsung will unveil the Galaxy Gear on September 4, days before Berlin’s IFA consumer electronics show, so we’ll know in relatively short order whether or not this report is bunk. The post also says that Samsung will take the opportunity to reveal its newest iteration of the Samsung Galaxy Note, which, I think, is patient zero for the curse of the phablet genre of device. You know what I mean—those horrible things that are too big to actually be considered phones, yet too small to adequately do the job of a tablet. Just the right size to be horrible, and with it, have a horrible name. But I digress.

While I’ve had a devil of a time wrapping my head around the need for a smartwatch—which is the kind of device whose sole function is eliminating the hassle of pulling a phone out of a pocket, and that’s about it—I can get something of a handle of simply putting the phone inside the watch entirely, though it’s not without its own logistical questions. If Samsung eschews the companion component of the Galaxy Gear and straight up shrinks an Android-based phone onto people’s wrists, what will be the preferred method of phone usage?

Will people decide that privacy is overrated (and already compromised enough) and simply stick with speakerphone? Will Bluetooth headsets make a comeback as the preferred method of conversation interface? I mean, I’m not crazy: a watch is simply not big enough to make it to both a person’s ear and mouth.

Even still, I have a much easier time imagining consumers purchasing one device—the watch-phone thing—rather than two that both do the same tasks. But whether there’s separate phone or a built-in phone or whatever, it’s undeniable that smartwatches are the next big battleground for gadget-makers. Again, I have my doubts that there’s going to be enough desire to drive this market, but I suppose I’m not privy to the kind of research that tech firms like Sony, Samsung, and Apple are. They must know something I don’t, though I’m eager to find out whether or not these investments in people’s wrists will pay off nearly as well as the years’ spent investing in people’s pockets.

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