Market Insight

Samsung promises iOS compatibility for Gear S2

January 07, 2016

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Samsung has committed to making the Gear S2 compatible with iOS by the end of the year. Samsung’s Tizen will become the last major smartwatch OS to support iOS devices with at least some basic functionality.

Samsung’s also announced two new finishes for the Gear S2 classic using rose gold and platinum. The finish is a plating on the existing stainless steel rather than a solid piece of precious metal and the pricing will reflect that.

Samsung Pay compatibility will be coming to the Gear S2 this year.

Our analysis:

The iOS compatibility Samsung is promising will likely not offer the same functionality and features as it does when paired to its own smartphones. Just like with Android Wear, the iOS functionality will likely be limited to little more than basic notification delivery and Bluetooth connectivity. However, adding iOS functionality is an important step as it will expand its market reach, and make the smartwatch compatible with almost all smartphones on the market. As smartwatches are still smartphone accessories, ensuring compatibility with most smartphones, especially the high-end ones, is critical to success.

With its new precious metal finishes, Samsung is aiming at the premium end of the market. As of November 2015, about two thirds of Swiss watch revenues in the year to date came from 6% of the shipments - the premium segment. With companies like Tag HEUER and other premium brands entering the smartwatch industry, and the Apple Watch Edition, Samsung needed to create a product to compete in that high-end segment of the market. However, without a strong luxury brand, Samsung may find it difficult to convince potential customers to choose their product over competitors with a strong brand presence.

The addition of features and functions to its smartwatches post-release is an indicator of where the whole smartwatch industry is. The basic template feature set and electronic makeup has been set, and this has allowed Samsung to enable new features on its smartwatch through a software update, rather than a release of a new model. This is important, as it proves the strides made in smartwatch longevity. Consumers will feel more comfortable purchasing a smartwatch if concerns of obsolescence are addressed.

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