While many manufacturers are readying their smartwatches, Samsung has already released several wearable devices, including the Galaxy Gear, which it launched in September 2013. The device was widely criticized for its $300 price tag, lackluster design, poor software and limited functionality.
After two months, it was estimated that the company had sold fewer than 50,000 of them, with around 30% of those sold being returned by buyers; Samsung later refuted these claims, insisting that the Galaxy Gear had been a huge success.
One buyer who couldn't get rid of his Galaxy Gear fast enough is Steve Wozniak, outspoken co-founder of Apple, and all-round enthusiast of all things technological. Wozniak rarely equivocates in his comments on the tech industry and its products - in the past, he has called Apple "arrogant", spoken in support of Kim Dotcom and MegaUpload, called Windows Phone "intuitive and beautiful", and said that Microsoft may be more innovative than Apple.
Wozniak told Xconomy.com that he is a fan of the general smartwatch idea, but the execution still needs work. "I want my smartphone here [on my wrist], but I really want the whole thing," he said. "I don't just want a little Bluetooth connection to the smartphone in my pocket, because then it's just an intermediary, an extra thing I buy to get what I already have, and have to carry anyway."
As a serial early adopter of technologies, Wozniak has already tried numerous smartwatches, but there is one that holds a special place of loathing in his heart - Samsung's Galaxy Gear. "That was the only technology I bought to experiment with that I threw out after half a day, sold it on eBay because it was so worthless and did so little that was convenient," he said.
Woz says that he likes Google Glass, but adds that "it may not be that useful, just like smartwatches may not be useful enough to get the critical mass they need to really go ahead."
He adds that it may come down to one company - maybe Apple, maybe someone else - to do something truly revolutionary in this space, before the smartwatch market really takes off. "If thirty companies are doing the same thing, you know it's wrong," he explained. "When one company does one thing very strikingly different, and everybody says this company got it right, this is the way of the future. In the past, it's been Apple a number of times - not always. So I'm really hoping that Apple's the big breakthrough."
Apple is widely expected to launch its first 'iWatch' later this year - could it be the device that finally cracks the key to success for smartwatches? Time will tell.