Well…okay. Samsung has decided that because first-mover advantage clearly had such a positive effect on the Galaxy Gear launch (note: it did not), it’s going to shoot for the same public reception with the fall launch of its new smart glass product, Galaxy Glass. The company reportedly plans to reveal Galaxy Glass at the IFA fair in Berlin, just as it did for its Galaxy Gear smartwatch.
An unnamed Samsung official told the Korea Times that the device will essentially be a companion piece to your smartphone and will display alerts on the lens, allow users to send and receive phone calls, and listen to music. So it doesn’t sound like a standalone device, much as the Galaxy Gear smartwatch disappointingly turned out to not be a standalone device.
Samsung has already registered the patent in Korea and is working with its display-making affiliate Samsung Display to create displays for Galaxy Glass. Last October, the Wall Street Journal uncovered a Samsung patent for “sports glasses,” which—unlike Google’s lensless glasses—come with transparent lenses, buttons on the side, built-in speakers, and a weird wrap-around cord and plug. It’s not clear whether Samsung’s “sports glasses” are the smart glass device it’s releasing later this year, but they sound eerily similar.
The official who spoke with the Korea Times admitted that the smart glass device won’t generate profits immediately, but that Samsung deems it more important to be seen as a leader in new markets. Obviously, it’s a little late for that, since the world has been hearing all about Google Glass since 2011.
But Samsung may be able to capitalize on the still fuzzy commercial release date of Google Glass, which was supposed to become available to the public in late 2013. The date has since been moved back to some time in 2014.
That’s not going to matter much if the device flops, though, as was the case for Galaxy Gear. First-mover advantage is really only an advantage if your product is good, and Galaxy Glass sounds…iffy at best.
The market for wearables is set to explode over the next few years, as any analyst group will tell you. Juniper Research estimates that 130 million wearable devices will be shipped in 2018, up from 13 million in 2013. The market is expected to balloon to $19 billion in 2018, compared to $1.4 billion in 2013. IMS Research (whose definition of wearbles includes military and industrial devices, not just consumer devices), however, already estimated the wearables market to be at $8.5 billion in 2012 and expects it to grow to $30 billion by 2018.