No specifics about the watch have been released yet

Apple better watch its back: Samsung is racing to release a smart watch, too.

As the global market for smartphones heads toward saturation (its growth is expected to slow to 9.8 percent in 2017 from 27 percent this year), tech companies are moving forward to the next big thing -- wearable devices.

Reports indicate that Apple will release a smart watch, which acts much like a smartphone, as soon as this year. But it looks like Apple's biggest smartphone competitor has the same idea. 

“We’ve been preparing the watch product for so long,” said Lee Young Hee, executive vice president of Samsung’s mobile business. “We are working very hard to get ready for it. We are preparing products for the future, and the watch is definitely one of them.

“The issue here is who will first commercialize it so consumers can use it meaningfully."

Hee didn't mention any specifics about Samsung's smart watch, such as what it will feature, how much it will cost and when it will be available.

Samsung is likely hoping to beat Apple to the punch because a smart watch could multi-task and connect to devices such as smartphones and tablets -- meaning that the first company to sell a smart watch could hook customers into their particular platform.

While making it to the finish line first will have its advantages, Samsung could also have the upper hand when it comes to pricing, since it makes its own chips and displays. Apple is notorious for having much higher-priced items.

Not much is known about Apple's smart watch either, but a few details have leaked in recent months. For instance, Apple is building the watch's iOS from the ground up instead of starting with the iPod nano's touch operating system (which has a screen about the size of a watch); the company is working on the iPhone's iOS so it can support the device; it will likely have many iPhone-like features, and it could be released later this year.

Last month, a patent application for a "Bi-stable spring with flexible display" was filed by Apple in 2011. It described a bi-stable spring that would be made out of thin steel and wrapped in fabric covering, then heat-sealed. The display would be located on one side of the bracelet (overlaid with an adhesive) and the logic board and battery would be placed on the other side. It also showed a universal fit, a plethora of onboard sensors, wireless charging, etc.

The fact that Samsung is also now releasing a smart watch is meaningful to the mobile device market, as Samsung is Apple's No. 1 competitor in the smartphone realm. Apple's iPhone only represented about 19 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments in 2012 while all Android-powered smartphones accounted for about 70 percent. Android will even beat Apple in the tablet sector this year, according to a new report from IDC. According to IDC, iPad shipments are expected to make up 46 percent of the tablet market for 2013, down from 51 percent in 2012. Android-powered tablets are expected to increase their market share to 49 percent in 2013, up from 42 percent in 2012.

Source: Bloomberg

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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