Reviews for the Galaxy Gear haven’t exactly been flattering thus far. Not only have critics slammed the watch for its high price and limited functionality, but the Gear only works with a very small selection of Samsung devices. So then, how exactly did Samsung manage to sell nearly 1 million units in just 2 months? The answer is simple: it probably didn’t.
In a report from Reuters, unnamed Samsung officials revealed that the company had sold 800,000 Gear watches since it launched in September. This would make the Gear the most popular smartwatch in the world.
However, a report from Korean news source Yonhap says that Samsung is referring to shipments to retailers, not consumer sales. The Verge also says that Samsung Korea confirmed in a statement that the 800,000 number relates to shipments as reported by Yonhap. One analyst’s opinion backs up this notion.
“Unless the attach rate with the Note 3 is astonishingly high, I suspect that this 800,000 number represents sell-in to retailers, not sell-through to actual customers,” said Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices at Current Analysis.
While the sales numbers may not be immediately clear, one thing is for sure: Samsung has been advertising its Gear watch aggressively. Over the past two months we’ve seen high-profile ad campaigns such as the Gear TV spot featuring Lorde’s “Royals” Billboard hit and Samsung’s nostalgic Dick Tracy-esque TV commercial.
Samsung’s effort to ramp up Gear shipments to retailers, if true, could be a promotion tactic in anticipation for the holidays as well, Greengart says. “In other words, Samsung is selling the Galaxy Gear to retailers in anticipation of holiday sales due to wider compatibility with the Galaxy S4,” he said.
Samsung’s Galaxy Gear essentially acts as a companion to your Galaxy device. At launch it was only compatible with the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014), but it can also work with the Galaxy S4 now that it’s been updated to Android 4.3. Like other smartwatches, it delivers notifications and is capable of making phone calls and running simple applications.
In our review, we praised the Gear for its crisp call quality and long battery life, but weren’t pleased with its high price and limited compatibility. Other cheaper smartwatches, such as the Pebble or Sony Smartwatch 2, are compatible across entire smartphone platforms and aren’t manufacturer specific.
Following the Gear’s launch, a Samsung executive said that the watch "lacks something special.” Rumors have suggested that a second-generation Galaxy Gear could already be in Samsung’s pipeline, but this hasn’t been confirmed.
We reached out to Samsung for comment regarding the Galaxy Gear's sales figures and will update this article accordingly.