Apple's rivals hope its iWatch makes 'wearable' work
By Jens Hack and Eric Auchard
BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Know what a "Wearable" is? Most top tech executives would struggle to define it. Now they're hoping that Apple will do it for them.
Next week, Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) is expected to stride into the market for wearable accessories that link wirelessly up to phones and create a template for other firms that have struggled to create products consumers would want to be seen in.
Rival electronics makers have been marketing hundreds of wearable products over the past year, but have little to show for it in sales despite huge hype for accessories seen as a critical boost to the vast but increasingly saturated market for mobile phones.
Executives at Europe's big consumer electronics trade fair this week in Berlin readily admit to hoping that Apple can crack the missing code for everyone. Where the U.S. innovator leads, its rivals plan to follow by bringing their own improvements or by seeking out profitable niche markets that Apple ignores.
"If Apple offers its own product, it will expand the market," Sung-jin Lee, Director of LG Electronics Inc's (066570.KS: Quote) watch product planning team, said in an interview.
"This is what we wanted," Sunny Lee, CEO of Samsung Electronics' (005930.KS: Quote) European business told Reuters when asked about Apple's likely debut.
Media reports have pinpointed 9 September as the date Apple will introduce its long-rumored smartwatch - a wrist device that typically connects to a nearby phone. Expectations are high for the iWatch, which could be the tech giant’s first brand new product after a four-year dry spell during which it faced pressure to create another groundbreaking consumer gadget.
So far Samsung dominates the smartwatch market, with 74 percent, but numbers remain small. Compared to the 1.3 billion mobile phones expected to be sold industry wide this year, just 1 million smartwatches shipped in the second quarter of 2014, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics estimates. Continued...