LG to launch new Smartwatch

2014-02-24 09:20

Seoul – LG will launch its first Smartwatch in 2014, the head of its mobile unit said, tapping into the new market for wearable devices seen as the mobile industry’s new source of growth.

The announcement from the South Korean Smartphone maker came after industry leader Samsung yesterday launched the second generation of its internet-enabled Smartwatch, the Gear 2.

“We are working on the development of wearable devices ... more specifically in the form of a watch,” said Park Jong-Seok, the CEO of LG Electronics’ mobile unit.

“[It] will come out this year,” he said, adding that the watch would be remotely linked to Smartphones.

“We’re working hard to put on the table something that other companies have not offered yet,” Park said, without elaborating further.

LG – the world’s fourth-largest Smartphone maker – has not yet entered the market for wearable devices dominated by firms like Samsung, Sony and Pebble.

A typical Smartwatch allows users to make calls, receive texts and emails, take photos and access apps.

So far, few companies have managed to generate large consumer excitement or sales in the market, also eyed by firms like Apple and Google.

Apple is believed to launch its own Smartwatch soon, while Google is moving towards a wider consumer launch of its internet-enabled eyewear Glass later this year.

However, the much-anticipated Galaxy Gear Smartwatch launched by Samsung last September was received coldly by consumers, who saw it as unfashionable and unwieldy.

Now Samsung – the world’s top maker of Smartphones and cellphones – plans to lure more consumers with new features on the Gear 2, including sport tracking software, a heart rate monitor and remote control for devices like TVs.

Many handset makers are banking on smart devices to boost revenue as sales of Smartphones slow in the mature and most profitable markets.

According to IT research and advisory firm Gartner, although Smartphone sales surged 42.4% to 968 million units last year, the growth came from developing markets like Latin America, India and China, while mature markets such as western Europe and the US hit the brakes.

Meanwhile, global Smartwatch sales are expected to grow this year by more than 500% from 1.9 million units in 2013, and to expand further in coming years, says market researcher Strategic Analytics.

Advanced markets, including the US and Western Europe, will drive the market, it said.

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