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You know that old Chinese curse, right? "May you live in interesting times." It's in full swing over the mobile computing market right now.
Rumor has it that Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) is working up a watch-like gadget for the post-smartphone era. Not to be outdone, Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF ) flat-out confirmed that it has a smart watch on tap.
Lee Young Hee, who spearheads the Korean company's mobile division, didn't mince words in a Bloomberg interview.
"Weave been preparing the watch product for so long," he said. "We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them."
No ifs, ands, or buts: Samsung is definitely preparing this thing.
All right. So I guess a new class of digital watches will be cool again, like the calculator-equipped armband clocks of the early 1980s. ( I thought they were cool when I was eight, OK? Mine played "Rondo Alla Turca"!)
Why dump another gadget style on consumers just as smartphones and tablets are becoming ubiquitous? Well, you can't stop the wheels of progress and something must eventually replace the common smartphone. The market is maturing fast and will most certainly be saturated in just a few years. Just as camera-equipped feature phones replaced basic call-making handsets and smartphones replaced feature phones, this too shall pass. So why not a wristwatch?
These things will perform many of the same tasks as a regular iPhone or Samsung Galaxy handset do today, except on a smaller screen that's more accessible. With a portable computer attached to your wrist, we won't need to dig through pockets and purses anymore. Glancing down at your watch can be more convenient and less rude to bystanders than pulling out and unlocking your phone.
It's also different from Google 's (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) digital spectacles, branded Google Glass. That might become the first mainstream wearable computing platform (some people are always way ahead of the rest of us), and then the watches come in to grab market share. Or maybe people will start wearing advanced watches and glasses on a regular basis, complementing each other.
And in the background, post-PC gear starts to fade as these newfangled alternatives take over. Who will rule the next generation?
Interesting times, indeed.
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