Gear Fit: Samsung strikes again with its 'build one of any device' plan

Stylish, real-time OS-based Fit smart wristband was unveiled at MWC along with two Tizen-based Gear smartwatches and the Galaxy S5 smartphone

Samsung was already on the path to global domination of the smartphone and tablet market when it unveiled another truckload of devices last week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Samsung Gear Fit
Samsung unveiled a sleek new smart wristband device, the Samsung Gear Fit, at Mobile World Congress. (Image: Samsung)

The mammoth Seoul-based PC and device maker got the most attention at the show for a sleek new smart wristband device called the Samsung Gear Fit, which was introduced with two near Gear smartwatches and the new Galaxy S5 smartphone with a new fingerprint reader and heart rate sensor.

The Fit wristband is the first curved wearable smartband with a Super AMOLED 432 x 128 pixel color screen that measures 1.84-in. diagonally. Fit requires access to Bluetooth 4.0 via up to 20 different Samsung smartphones and tablets to receive notification of calls, emails and texts. The device also has a heart rate sensor, accelerometer and gyroscope that can monitor sleep and exercise in standalone mode without a Bluetooth link.

Gear Fit goes on sale in April. There's intense speculation about its price tag, as Samsung juggles its future in the emerging wearables category following some very successful years of selling smartphone and tablet models.

Apple, Google and Microsoft are all expected to launch smartwatches or smart fitness wearable bands with various functions in 2014.

Samsung is also widely expected to enter the smart glasses category as well.

"Samsung is always about putting out one of everything to see what sticks," said Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Kantar WorldPanel. "They have so much money that they can afford to launch many devices when others can't -- like HTC, LG, BlackBerry. The list goes on."

But Milanesi said she's concerned that Samsung may spread itself too thin in its product lineup of smartphones and tablets, and perhaps with wearables. "I would argue it's time for Samsung to be more focused as profit margins are getting thinner, even for them. In order to be focused, though, you need a clear vision of where you want to go and who you want to be. Maybe that [should be] Samsung's first priority."

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insight & Strategy, however, says Samsung's wearables' strategy could work as well as its strategies in the other categories. "Samsung has taken that I call 'spray and pray' approach, which is to create a ton of different products, see what sticks and force competitors to follow. Samsung has had a lot of success with this approach in phones and tablets and I think it can work well in wearables."

In discussing what price Samsung should charge for the Fit, most analysts note that $300 for the original Galaxy Gear smartwatch, announced last fall, was too high and hurt sales. The new Galaxy Gear 2, announced last week at Mobile World Congress, could be priced at $250 or less to be more competitive, analysts said. The Gear Neo smartwatch (also announced at MWC) has fewer functions than the Gear 2 and should be $100 less than the Gear 2, perhaps $150, they added.

That would leave the Fit at $100 or less, though Samsung could also position the Fit as a stylish alternative to other $100-plus smart fitness bands in the market, allowing Samsung to raise the price well above $100.

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