We’ve been told by the IDC time and time again that smartwatch adoption is on the rise, but it seems as though the Apple Watch is the only smartwatch with soaring sales at the moment. From what we know, Apple has at least 7 million Apple Watch sales right now, with the other manufacturers struggling to even come remotely close to Apple’s expected success.
But to see the glass as “half empty” instead of “half full” is to discount Samsung’s Gear S2 in its early infancy. Now three months old, Samsung’s Gear S2 is proving impressive on a number of fronts. The Korean giant has embraced a more popular smartwatch design and opened compatibility to a large number of Android smartphones whose owners could have gone to Android Wear for their next mobile device but will instead embrace Tizen as a result. Samsung’s Gear S2 also has a rotating bezel reminiscent of divers watches from the mid-twentieth century and has been transformed to accommodate current customers who have little recollection of those days. Sometimes, what is old proves new, and Samsung is betting big on the rotating bezel. It is a wise bet, indeed.
At the same time, however, no matter how fancy the hardware design, design is not enough: there must be something more. Samsung has led the way with functionality in its smartwatches that Android Wear stands in dire need of, but a number of consumers, as tempted as they may be by current smartwatch designs, want increasing relevance that makes a wearable for the wrist hard to resist. This past week, a US carrier used the Korean giant’s latest device to introduce a feature that will encourage smartwatch adoption in growing numbers.
Have you heard of NumberSync? It’s a new feature created by US carrier giant AT&T that allows customers to have only one phone number for all their mobile devices. In other words, if you’ve been using the same number for the last 5 years for your smartphone, but now crave a smartwatch and a tablet, then you need not concern yourself with getting 2 additional phone numbers to have data plans on those devices (for a total of 3 phone numbers); instead, you’ll only need 1 phone number (the one for your smartphone) to work for all three devices. The best part of NumberSync is that it is being integrated first on the Gear S2, with AT&T offering Samsung’s latest wrist wearable for just $99.99 with a two-year agreement ($10 monthly on the 2-year contract).
Some may dismiss this as just another new thing without merit, but to think this way would be to dismiss the genius behind NumberSync for the Gear S2. In years past, having multiple phone numbers has been one of the deterrents to the adoption of multiple mobile devices. As of this moment, I currently have 4 phone numbers: one for the Galaxy S5, one for the Galaxy Note 5, one for the Gear S from 2014, and one for the new Gear S2 that arrived on my doorstep a few days ago (all compliments of US carrier Verizon Wireless). Each of these devices has 3G/4G connectivity, that, sans NumberSync, demands unique phone numbers. With AT&T’s NumberSync announcement for the Gear S2 and future smartwatches, AT&T customers need not worry about multiple phone numbers or memory recall of them at a moment’s notice. Removing the barrier of phone numbers, in turn, will make consumers more open to adopting mobile devices because there is, to use a cliché phrase that never gets old, “one [number] to rule them all.”
NumberSync for the Gear S2 strikes at the heart of barriers that often discourage smartwatch adoption rather than encourage it. Having a background in retail, I’ve learned that when barriers to technology are removed, consumers find themselves more open to embracing what’s next. When barriers are put in place, only a few tech enthusiasts will attempt to overcome those barriers. Samsung wants its Gear S2 smartwatch to do more than look good and win a few tech diehards by the wrists; the Korean manufacturer wants to win those tech diehards while growing the smartwatch market at the same time. It’s a lofty goal, but then again, no one’s ever succeeded by setting a low bar.