(Adds executive's comments, analyst's reaction)
By Paul Sandle
BARCELONA, Spain Feb 24 Samsung Electronics
unveiled a new smart watch and fitness band along
with the latest version of its Galaxy smartphone on Monday,
demonstrating how the battleground for innovation is shifting
from the hand to the wrist.
The world's biggest smartphone maker set a trend less than
six months ago for wearable devices that link to mobile handsets
with its Galaxy Gear watch, which has seen rivals like Sony
and Huawei follow in its wake.
JK Shin, chief executive officer and president of the IT and
Mobile Communication Division at Samsung Electronics, said the
devices were designed to make life easier for consumers in areas
like fitness, rather than dazzling them with new technology in
"Our consumers do not want eye-popping technology or the
most complex technology," he told an audience of Samsung
employees, partners and media in Barcelona.
They instead wanted beautiful design, a better camera,
faster connectivity and technology that would help them keep
fit, he said.
Samsung's Gear 2 smart watch, which runs on the Tizen
operating system rather than Google's Android software,
can monitor the wearer's heart rate, a function used in
increasingly popular health and fitness apps, or individual
The Samsung Gear Fit, also targeting the fitness sector, has
a heart rate monitor, too, as does the Samsung Galaxy S5 itself,
a first for a smartphone, Samsung said.
The Gear Fit has a curved touch-sensitive screen and its
features include a pedometer, the South Korean company said.
The Galaxy S5, which will be available in April, has a
slightly bigger screen than its predecessor, at 5.1 inches
compared with 5 inches, improved camera technology and better
protection against water and dust, Samsung said.
It also has a fingerprint scanner on the home button, it
said, which can be used to protect data and provide security
credentials in a swipe.
Analysts said the improvements in the fifth iteration of the
Galaxy S, which has sold more than 200 million units in total,
were more incremental than in previous devices, showing it was
becoming harder to innovate at the top end.
Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson said, "The Galaxy
S5 has great features and will probably sell well due to massive
"But is the total product experience it offers
differentiated enough to continue the sales success story? Is it
enough to bet on fitness and fingerprint sensors to beat Apple
- rooting the experience in people's daily lives? I
don't think so."
It will enter a market that has seen slowing demand at the
top end, where Samsung is already in fierce competition from
Apple Inc and Chinese vendors.
(Editing by David Evans and Jan Paschal)