Here Comes the Next Small Thing from Samsung

The headline isn’t a jab at the South Korean electronics giant, either — they’re expected to soon introduce some sort of wearable smartwatch phone accessory:

Samsung is widely expected to reveal a smartwatch coined Galaxy Gear in the coming months, possibly as soon as Germany’s IFA trade show in early September. A Bloomberg report last week ambiguously identified the Gear as being able to “make phone calls,” but The Verge has learned today that the Galaxy Gear will definitely not be a phone unto itself. “It works with phones,” one source tells us, suggesting that it will be a smartphone companion just as most other recent smartwatch efforts have been. “The watch is not a phone.”

I know Apple has been rumored all year to be working on an “iWatch” or something, too, but this is a product category I just don’t get. Lots of people, millions, stopped wearing watches when they started carrying smartphones, me among them. A phone is just much more useful than a watch, and unlike an ugly watch it can be tucked away when not in use. Watches sold primarily as jewelry and/or a status symbol still sell well to those who can afford them, but why strap an ugly Casio to your wrist when an ugly phone in your pocket does the watch’s job just as well?

Of all the benefits smartphones have brought to the world, that one might be the most underrated.

This is why I don’t get Galaxy Gear or iWatch or whatever. What’s the point in wearing something on your wrist that’s probably not going to be very attractive, and that won’t actually do anything without a bluetooth link to the smartphone that’s still in your pocket? If you make phone calls with it, you’re still going to need a bluetooth earbud, so now you’re carrying (or wearing) three devices instead of one. Does it do NFC stuff to make your checkout faster at Starbucks? If so, will anyone care? I have the feeling one reason NFC has yet to take off is because checkout with a debit card is already lightning fast. Does it ID you to your phone biometrically? New phones (almost certainly the new iPhone) will probably come with fingerprint sensors built in, so again — what’s the use-case for a second device?

I just don’t get it. Somebody please want to enlighten me?

UPDATE: NFC is in worse shape than I thought. Check this out from Steve Cheney:

NFC is dead—that’s not the interesting part though, it’s how Apple was able to replicate NFC functionality with Bluetooth 4.0 and WiFi (they’re also using GPS like Bump did for authentication) and how they standardized all of this into iBeacon in iOS7. While supporting it all backward compatibly to iPhone 4S. A two year old phone upgraded with iOS7 will just work… Bluetooth has arrived – it’s been around forever, but up to now it’s been crappy. Bluetooth LE (also called Bluetooth Smart) changes everything. Connections, pairing, device management etc will finally work 100% of the time, and Bluetooth will be a completely bulletproof, consumer ready, industry leading technology. There will truly be a radio in everything around us and it’s going to enable incredible experiences in mobile. Apple’s iWatch will work so well with your iPhone out of the gate when it’s launched you will be blown away.

Yeah, but I still don’t get iWatch.