The many challenges of the smartwatch market

Samsung unveiled its Galaxy Gear smartwatch today, and the reaction from techie types has generally been underwhelming. While The Verge calls it “a smartwatch like no other” — which seems like damning with faint praise considering such devices are just beginning to come to market — the high-tech doohickey is also being derided as a mere toya smartwatch in search of a purpose, and a disservice to the word “smart.”

My take? The Samsung Gear has three big vulnerabilities: It’s probably too clunky for mainstream users to wear on their wrists (as Engadget noted), its $300 price tag is far too high for a complementary device, and the fact that it must be tethered to a Samsung Galaxy device seriously limits its appeal.

But the Galaxy Gear certainly won’t be the only smartwatch that will face an uphill battle. In a nutshell, the smartwatch industry faces two big challenges: It must give users good reasons to buy them in addition to the smartphones they already own, and it must do so at a reasonable price. My colleague Mike Wolf presents a great case here explaining why smartwatches could be ideal for the youth market, and as the father of two youngsters I completely agree. But I’m skeptical smartwatches will gain mass-market traction in the near future unless manufacturers can deliver at a much lower price point.