Wearables: Samsung chases fitness fans with Gear Fit 2
Customer-centred redesign of exercise tracking device sees GPS integrated
Samsung Gear Fit 2: will go on sale in the run-up to Christmas. Photograph: Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Samsung
Samsung is set to launch a new assault on the wearable and smart home technology market as it prepares to release new devices in Ireland.
Samsung Ireland’s country manager Gary Twohig said the company’s new Gear Fit 2 fitness product would go on sale in the fourth quarter of the year, aiming to capture fitness enthusiasts in the run-up to Christmas.
The wearables category has grown in recent months as more products hit the shelves, but it is still considered a niche market.
“I think it’s maturing in a positive way.We are learning a lot more as manufacturers about what people want,” Mr Twohig said. “It’s important when we’re launching wearables – and I mean as an industry – to ask is this a real benefit for the consumer, is this going to help them in their lives, and put the customer at the centre of the wearable products we’re launching.”
That thinking was part of the reasoning behind the redesign of the Gear Fit tracker, which sees GPS integrated into the device for runners.
It’s a similar strategy for the smart home sector, with Samsung planning to shake up the sector.
Connecting the SmartThing hub to Samsung’s smart TVs will allow users to control their smart home functions from the big screen.
“We’re rethinking about the products we’re bringing out and what are the best ones to bring benefit to our consumers’ lives,” Mr Twohig said. “There’ll be new things coming from Samsung in the near future that are going to revitalise the SmartThings and smart home experience.”
Although there are some major investments people can make – Samsung launched a smart fridge at CES in January for example – he said the majority of purchases in the smart home wouldn’t be big ticket items but smaller devices.
Irish consumers are still waiting for Samsung’s payment product, Samsung Pay, to come to Ireland. The service, which allows users to pay for goods and services by tapping their mobile phone instead of a contactless card, has launched in five countries, and rivals a similar service from Apple known as Apple Pay.
Mr Twohig said a launch in Ireland was on the cards.
“It is coming, hopefully imminently, to the Irish market but we don’t have a set date,” he said. “The appetite is there. Irish consumers I expect will adapt very quickly. Everyone I know is using contactless payments now; it’s easy to do. It will be a very similar experience with a smartphone, but it will mean you don’t always have to have your cards with you.”
All eyes have turned to Samsung in recent weeks as it unveiled its latest mobile device. The Note 7 was launched last week after its August 2nd unveiling. Samsung begins officially shipping on September 2nd, but opened preorders for the device several days ago.
Mr Twohig said orders for the new Note were “unprecedented” both in Ireland and across Europe. It has been a couple of years since a new Note was available here, with Samsung choosing not to launch the Note 5 in Ireland.
“We’ve obviously built the category. When we launched our original Note several years ago we were scoffed at by many people. In Samsung we spotted very early on that if you wanted greater productivity from your smartphone but also more immersive entertainment, bigger is better,” he said. “As tech has progressed, we’ve been able to slim down the larger phones so they feel comfortable in your hands, so you don’t actually feel like you have a larger phone until you switch it on and start taking the content in.”