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The Suddenly Crowded Smartwatch Space

Matthew is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Another week, another iWatch or iWatch-related rumor. For months, the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) product that analysts and tech reporters cannot shut-up about is the Apple iWatch, Apple’s supposed answer to the smartwatch category. This is despite Apple neither confirming the iWatch name, specifications or even the very existence of the product. That has not stopped analysts and reporters; as if constantly talking about the rumored iWatch will magically will-it into being. Though that is seemingly what had happened last week, just not exactly as expected.

Samsung (Galaxy?) Smartwatch
Last week Samsung’s (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) executive vice president of mobile confirmed the rumor that the company is working on its own smartwatch product. And to get out well ahead of claims that the South Korean electronics giant is just copying Apple yet again, Samsung’s VP took the time to specifically mention that the company has been working on this product for a long time. This has not stopped Apple fanboys and girls from crying foul, accusing Samsung of ripping off Apple’s unconfirmed, unspecified and possibly even nonexistent iWatch. That’s the internet for you.

For Samsung part, the company has actually been in the smartwatch product category for many years, introducing the world’s first “watchphone” (cellphone-watch combo) in 1999. One of Samsung’s more recent products was the 2009 launch of the S9110, a watchphone with a full touchscreen. If you have never heard of the Samsung S9110 until now, that is not too surprising. The watchphone had a low battery life, very limited availability and a high price tag. And despite being dubbed the world’s “slimmest watchphone”, it was still fairly large, bulky and not very aesthetically pleasing. It was essentially an under-featured dumbphone strapped to your wrist. Not a very elegant solution and, needless to say, it was not a commercial success.

With four additional years of experience since the launch of the S9110, Samsung (now the world’s largest cellphone maker) should presumably be able to devise a much more successful smartwatch product this time around. The as of now unnamed and unspecified Samsung smartwatch is expected to launch sometime this year.

Android Smartwatch
Not to be left out of all the smartwatch excitement, recent rumors from the technological grapevine suggests that Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) will also be entering this now crowded tech space. These latest rumors signal that Google’s Android division is working on the wrist-based computing project.

The rumor that Google’s Android division is developing a smartwatch is fairly significant. Recently, Google has been making tech headlines with their Google Glass smartglasses project. Google Glass is being developed at the Google X Lab, Google’s “secret” division known for developing hundreds of the company’s more experimental projects. These projects include the driverless car and the even more off the wall neural net and space elevator projects.

Projects from Google X Lab tend to not have an immediate consumer need. Instead it is the company’s efforts to look years or even decades ahead to a possible tech future. The Android division, on the other hand, develops products and services with a more immediate consumer need. While no specifics were given for this rumored Android-developed Google smartwatch, it would not be surprising to see it being released this year (with a release schedule similar to Apple’s iWatch and Samsung’s smartwatch). It would also not be surprising to see the Android smartwatch project being released in conjunction with the smartwatch products of Samsung and other companies.

Foolish Bottom Line
In the span of just a few short days, the smartwatch product category has gone from just one rumored tech-giant to the three largest names in the mobile industry. This smartwatch category has gotten very exciting in a very short amount of time. I cannot wait to see what the future will bring, not just in the smartwatch space, but the future of all wearable technology.

Matthew Luke has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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