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The Wearables Market Heating Up Among Apple, Samsung And LG

Three major players in the tech world made news yesterday regarding wearables. Reports yesterday of Apple preparing to announce the long-rumored 'iWatch,' came prior to LG and Samsung each officially announcing their own unique smartwatches in the LG G Watch R and the Samsung Gear S.

After reports hit the web that Apple is about to announce its long-rumored 'iWatch,' LG and Samsung each announced their own smartwatches that they've been working on behind the scenes.

It was originally expected that both the LG and Samsung smartwatches would be announced at the IFA event in Berlin next week, but both companies made their announcements late Wednesday.

LG's smartwatch, the G Watch R, is aesthetically focused, as it is designed to look like an actual wristwatch with its circular OLED display and leather strap, but it packs the functionality offered by other smartwatches that may not be as easy on the eyes. LG's smartwatch has a handful of sensors, including a barometer, gyroscope and heart rate monitor and will run on Google's Android Wear. LG said the G Watch R will be released in the fourth quarter, but pricing has not been detailed.

Related: Apple Stock Hits Record High As Partners Anticipate An 'Exciting' September

Samsung's Gear S is the sixth smartwatch made by the Korean conglomerate, but the first ever announced to have the ability to take and make calls without the aid of a smartphone. The Gear S has Wi-Fi connectivity, a built-in GPS and pedestrian navigation. The device has a 2-inch curved display and will hit the market in October, though no details on pricing have been released. Samsung said that its new smartwatch will run on its homemade Tizen operating system, and not Android Wear.

Apple plans to announce a wrist-worn device at its iPhone 6 press event on Sept. 9, according to a report published by Re/code yesterday. The Apple wearable would be focused around Apple's new health and fitness platform, HealthKit, in addition to HomeKit, Apple's software that allows for seamless interconnectivity between devices, including iPhones, iPads and Mac OS X products.

Partners speculate that if Apple were to announce a smartwatch and the iPhone 6 at the same event, the smartphone would hit store shelves in just a couple weeks while the wearable wouldn't hit the market until late in the fourth quarter or early next year.

Partners said that with tech giants like Apple, Google, Samsung and LG throwing their hats in the wearables ring, the market for wearables is about to take off.

"It's like any emerging technology," said Douglas Grosfield, president and CEO of Xylotek Solutions, an Ontario-based solutions provider. "The challenge is to get something out there at a price point and functionality that is attractive to your target market. These companies putting weight behind the smartwatch market is going to speed the momentum of it and six to 12 months from now it'll be an exciting time in the wearables base."

Next: Partners Say Wearables Need To Find Their Niche


Grosfield said that he thinks the young wearables market could have a bright future, but products such as smartwatches need to find their niche.

"The more tech you put into something, in some ways it sounds nice, but a smartwatch that makes calls might be less appealing to people who already have smartphones," he said. "It's like, 'Do I want to carry a tablet and a laptop?' If something tries to be too many things to too many people, it doesn’t do anything well."

Apple has yet to confirm the early September media event, but partners expect the company to release something big after company Senior Vice President Eddy Cue promised "the best product pipeline that I've seen in my 25 years at Apple," at the Code Conference in late May.

"I am guessing that any announcement at the reported event will lead to products of both iOS 8 and Mac OS X working together better than ever before," said Raul De Arriz, national government sales manager for Small Dog Electronics, Waitsfield, Vt., one of the top Apple specialists in the country.

Both Grosfield and De Arriz note that Apple's business strategy is typically not to be the first to release a product, but when they do, it typically performs well.

PUBLISHED AUG. 28, 2014

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