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Samsung to join forces with Under Armour for wearables: sources

2014/07/16 09:09

SEOUL, July 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's tech giant Samsung Electronics Co. is expected to join hands with U.S.-based sports clothing maker Under Armour Inc., market sources said Wednesday, indicating the smartphone maker's move to expand presence in the global wearable devices market.

The outlook came as Lee Jay-yong, the de facto heir of Samsung Group, reportedly met Kelvin Plank, the founder and chief executive officer of Under Armour here earlier this month.

During the meeting, they have reportedly discussed ways of countering impact from collaboration between Apple Inc. and Nike Inc. in the wearable devices sector.

Such speculations also rose as Lee was witnessed wearing an Under Armour shirt during his visit to the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference held last week at the U.S. state of Idaho.

Apple and Nike have been making efforts to seek convergence between sports wear and smart devices since 2006 by rolling out Nike + iPod Sport Kit, which came with a wireless sensor to be integrated into shoes to send data on time, distance, pace and calories burned to Apple's products.

In 2012, Nike released FuelBand, a wearable device that only connects to Apple products. Industry watchers said Nike will eventually reduce its wearable business to focus on the U.S. tech giant's first wearable device set to be released later this year, speculated to be called the "iWatch."

   While Apple is yet to release its first wearable smart device, Samsung jumped into the new market since September last year with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch that worked on Google Inc.'s Android platform.

This year, it rolled out the Galaxy Gear Fit, which works on real-time operating system, as well as the Tizen-powered Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Neo. Last month, it also debuted the Samsung Gear Live, the first member of lineup that works under U.S.-based Google Inc.'s Android Wear platform.

Samsung is estimated to have took up 71 percent of the global wearable market in the first quarter of this year by shipping some 500,000 units. The company's dominance, however, is expected to be threatened by Apple's first full-fledged wearable device set to be launched in October this year.

The global market for wearable devices is anticipated to reach US$6 billion by 2016, industry watchers said.

The wearable market has been one of the most focused on sectors in recent years, especially as the growth of the smartphone industry slowed due to market saturation.

Last week, Samsung, the world's biggest technology firm by revenue, estimated its second-quarter operating profit at a sharply lower-than-expected 7.2 trillion won ($7.01 billion) amid a slowdown in its smartphone business.

The estimate represents a 24.4 percent fall from its operating profit of 9.53 trillion won last year. Analysts here attributed the sluggish earnings to slow sales of Samsung handsets, both at the low-end and high-end levels.

colin@yna.co.kr

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