May 14, 2014
Move Over Google, Samsung Reportedly Developing Its Own Glass
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
While Samsung has been a close ally of Google -- and is the largest producer of Android-powered handsets and tablet computers -- the South Korean consumer electronics giant has apparently been developing a competitive device to Google Glass. Dubbed the Gear Glass, the wearable computer device could be officially unveiled as early as September.
On Tuesday, Business Korea reported that Samsung Electronics would roll out the device to counter Google Glass. Samsung isn't alone in looking through the glass market, as Sony and Epson are reportedly eyeing their own respective versions - while Apple, Microsoft and LG Electronics have also filed for smart glass-related patent applications.
Reports suggested that the Gear Glass could be nearly identical in form -- and potentially function -- to Google Glass.
This news comes as Google also announced this week that it is opening up its public beta for Google Glass to anyone over the age of 18 in the United States who is interested in paying $1,500 for the still prototype versions of the wearable computing devices.
While Google Glass is still expected for full release later this year, the timing of any release for the still-just-rumored Samsung device is unknown. It likely won't officially be announced until the IFA trade show in Germany.
Mashable reported that Samsung had a patent filing from October of last year for a smart glasses product and suggested that the device would be introduced in September: "The IFA trade show is a logical choice to unveil the device. Samsung unveiled its first major wearable, the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, at IFA 2013, and the company tends to be a dominant presence at the show. The show begins on Sept. 5."
Sam Mobile seemed to confirm that this is merely an unveiling and not an actual release of the product, reporting "a new report is claiming that the Korean manufacturer could unveil the Gear Glass (a tentative title) at IFA in September, alongside the Galaxy Note 4."
Samsung's desire to get into the wearable computer market is not surprising. According to a new study from ABI Research released on Wednesday the wearable device technologies will become an integral part of enterprise mobile enablement strategies.
While the North American region will reportedly see the largest growth over the next five years the Asia-Pacific region will become the second largest market outpacing Europe by 2019.
It is also unclear what operating system the Samsung Gear Glass might run on; but it was reported last week that Epson's Moverui BT-200 would run on Android 4.0.
Samsung could look to take advantage of its Tizen open source operating system instead. So why would Samsung turn its back on its close partner?
"We have to remember that Samsung was a great supplier to Apple. Don't confuse allies with friends," Susan Schreiner, analyst at C4 Trends, told redOrbit. "It is going to be interesting to watch because they question is what operating system is going to run on. Epson runs on Google Android, but Gear Glass could run on Tizon [sic]. So the real question is what does that mean for developers?"
Schreiner added that Samsung has already invested in a future that certainly will include wearable devices.
"Samsung has some nice products in the wearable space, which they showed off at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year," she said. "This is really an extension of their thrust into the wearables market."
Yet it is unlikely that Samsung would move away entirely from Android or for that matter its partnership with Google.
"There is too much money here to totally move away from Android," suggested Schreiner. "This could really be a play to expand the marketplace and expand their opportunities."