Competitors are ready to take on Apple Watch

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

Expect the smartwatch race to heat up next week, with the unveiling of at least five newly updated competitors to the Apple Watch.

As reported by CNet, Samsung, Motorola, LG, Asus and Huawei are all expected to show off their new smartwatches at next week's IFA electronics trade show in Berlin. Each is rolling out a new version of a previously released product, and most will be using Google's Android Wear software.

[See also: Apple Watch: All hype or some hope for healthcare?]

Recent industry analysts have pegged Apple's share of the smartwatch market at around 74 percent, though many in healthcare say the first version of the Apple Watch will need some upgrades before healthcare finds some sustainable uses for it. With Android powering a vast majority of the world's smartphones, Apple's competitors are now hoping to unveil more adaptable, feature-rich smartwatches that will lure the public – and, by extension, the healthcare industry – to them.

"Apple Watch has clearly raised the bar for the global smartwatch industry," Strategy Analytics analyst Neil Mawston told CNet. "The ball is now in the court of rivals, like Samsung, to respond."

Samsung is set to launch its new Gear S2 model, with its own Tizen software instead of Android Wear. Samsung had included Android in the 2013 rollout of its Galaxy Gear smartwatch, but encountered problems and switched to Tizen. Google modified its Android Wear platform shortly after, and Samsung, LG and Motorola all rolled out devices with the technology at last year's Google developer conference. Whether Samsung sticks with Tizen (both are based in South Korea) or shifts back to Android Wear remains to be seen.

[See also: Smartwatches are missing a crucial market]

Of the others, LG will roll out the LG Watch Urbane LTE, which debuted in March with WebOS software developed by Hewlett-Packard but has since been updated with Android Wear. Motorola will unveil a new version of its Moto 360 product, Huawei is expected to show off its first smartwatch, which got a sneak peak at the Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona this year, and Asus is expected to unveil the ZenWatch 2, about which little is known.

Of course, there's no guarantee that any of these models will catch on with an increasingly skeptical public. Not even the Apple Watch, which has found its way into dozens of patient- and provider-engagement pilots in healthcare systems across the country, is doing enough business to ensure its future.

"Despite buyers being satisfied with the device, we continue to see that the product is running out of steam," Juniper Research analyst James Moar told CNet.



[See also: Apple Watch gets its app for doctors]

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