Both Samsung and Motorola are touting their latest smart watches -- unveiled today at the IFA 2015 consumer electronics show in Berlin -- as stylish timepieces that can each run for days on a single charge and come with lots of useful apps for daily living. The next question, though, is how the new Samsung Gear S2 and Moto 360 watches will perform in a market that's been dominated by the Apple Watch since that device was launched in April.
Powered by the Tizen operating system, the Gear S2 (pictured right; three models) will give users access to more than 1,000 applications, Samsung said. Among the companies that have developed apps specifically for use on the smart watch with the circular face are ESPN, Bloomberg Business, Twitter, Uber, Yelp and TripCase.
Motorola's new line of Android Wear-powered Moto 360 (pictured left, forefront) smart watches also offers a range of apps, including MyFord for starting an app-compatible vehicle, a Delta app for air travelers and Lyft for hailing a . A feature called Live Dials also lets users create watchface shortcuts to their most commonly used apps.
Emphasis on Style
Beyond their watches' access to task-related and fitness-related apps, both companies are emphasizing the styles of their devices. Samsung has partnered with Italian designer Alessandro Mendini to design a variety of custom personalization options for the Gear S2, while Motorola offers a Moto Maker design studio to let users choose from a wide range of bezels, colors, materials and bands.
"Because smart watches are worn directly on the wrist, visible to everyone, they represent a more unique, personal experience than the everyday smartphone," said Younghee Lee, executive vice president of Global Marketing for Samsung's IT & Mobile Division.
Samsung has not yet announced pricing for the Gear S2. Motorola is currently taking pre-orders for the Moto 360, which ranges in price from $299.99 to $429.99. That means the lower-end styles of the Moto 360 will cost less than the Apple Watch, which starts at $349 for the Sport style and can exceed $10,000 for the custom Edition in 18-karat gold.
Enterprise Wearables Seeing 'Positive ROI'
While Apple hasn't disclosed detailed sales figures for the Apple Watch, the device had a "great start" in its first quarter, CEO Tim Cook said in July. The company's Q3 2015 financial results reported revenues of $2.64 billion for "other products" -- which include the Apple TV, Beats Electronics and iPod as well as the Apple Watch -- compared to $1.77 billion for the same quarter in 2014.
Smart watches are soon expected to dominate the wearables market and account for 48 percent of shipments by 2020, according to recent research from the technology-focused market intelligence firm Tractica. The report also noted that once the initial fashion appeal of such devices declines, the long-term success of smart watches will require companies to persuade buyers that "something else is on offer that makes the wearable device valuable."
That added utility could come in the form of more apps for business users.
"Enterprise interest in wearables is quite strong for a wide range of applications and industry sectors," Tractica managing director Clint Wheelock told us. "The numbers are not large yet, but there have been a number of successful pilot programs and small deployments, with positive ROI and efficiency gains in most cases, so many companies are exploring larger rollouts."
Beyond smart watches and fitness trackers, other wearables that could prove useful for business users include smart glasses, voice-controlled headsets, wearable cameras, and body sensors, Wheelock said.
"Some of the more promising application markets include medical and healthcare, logistics, corporate wellness, and field services, but these are just a few of the industries that will be impacted by wearables," he said.
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