Samsung filed a newly-discovered trademark with the USPTO dated July 29 for the Galaxy Gear, a name for “wearable digital electronic devices in the form of a wristwatch, wrist band or bangle capable of providing access to the Internet and for sending and receiving phone calls, electronic mails and messages.” It’s as clear a move as Apple applying for an iWatch trademark in various countries around the world that the Korean company is working on a smartwatch.
Previous reports have said that Samsung is working on a smartwach device, and technical patents filed for by the company suggest it’s looking at designs with flexible displays, though that tech might still be a few years out according to sources in the display manufacturing industry. Even so, the trademark filing indicates Samsung is serious about staking out ground in the wearable market, whether or not it’s ready to bring those products to consumers just yet.
A Samsung smartwatch would likely be an Android-based affair to partner up with the company’s line of Galaxy Android-based smartphones and tablets, but judging by the wording of the patent it might be capable of acting alone to perform a number of functions, without necessarily requiring a smartphone tether. Even if it does require a smartphone to be connected, the Gear looks like a way for Amazon to stay in the game should Apple come out with its much-rumored iWatch.
The iWatch has been rumored for a long while now, but Apple started securing trademarks for the name in Japan, Mexico and other countries last month, even though it faces competition from others who already hold the mark in other key markets. Apple has been onboarding new staff to tackle the iWatch project, according to a recent report from the Financial Times, and plans to bring the device to store shelves sometime in 2014 if all goes as planned. This would ring true with Apple CEO Tim Cook’s repeated statements that Apple has a lot of “new products” in the works for the end of this year and throughout next.
2014 could be the year of the smartwatch if Samsung is indeed gearing up for a release to anticipate, coincide with or shortly follow Apple’s own unveiling. This is a new and relatively untested market, however, so first mover advantage won’t necessarily carry the day; we’ll have to wait and see what each company’s design brings to the table in terms of generating broad consumer appeal for what has so far been the very niche device category of wearable tech.