Chinese manufacturers say there is low demand for counterfeit versions of wearable devices like the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which may be cause of concern for some smart watch companies.
Almost every device and gadget today is made in China. While design and development may be done elsewhere, nothing comes close to the precision, speed and adaptability of the Chinese manufacturing process. Unfortunately, this also comes with the risk of being copied by ODMs, especially in a country where copyright laws may not necessarily be as tightly enforced as brand owners would like.
The thriving market for fake goods — electronics, apparel and even automobiles — in China has been a big concern for global firms like Apple, Samsung, HTC, LG and the like. Knockoffs usually eat into the sales of the real thing. And with lower quality assurance processes, cheap knockoffs also break apart easily, sometimes resulting in negative press for the real thing.
The recent popularity of wearable devices like the Samsung Galaxy Gear might mean counterfeiters should be expected to be quick to market with their own versions. However, it seems this is not the case. A recent report on CNN indicates that demand for wearable technology might not be that high — indicative of the lack of knockoffs at telecom stores in Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei commercial district, for example, where smartphone and tablet knockoffs are otherwise common.
Many of the same shops that sell counterfeit products already carry cheap knockoffs of devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and iPhone 5S and 5C, suggesting that manufacturers are quick to produce copies when there is likelihood of high demand.
The global piracy phenomenon has actually caught the attention of the academe. And the lack of fake wearables might, indeed, mean lack of interest, says Alf Rehn, management professor at Abo Akademi University in Finland. “Without the buzz, there’s no need for the counterfeit, and it seems like Samsung’s smart watch hasn’t quite gotten the buzz going,” he says.
A cursory check through Chinese e-commerce website Alibaba shows about 15,000 results for Android-powered smartwatches, however, with prices as low as $60 apiece. This could mean that smart watches are not altogether an unwanted product in the market. Rather, it’s the ones designed by major brands that are facing a lack of interest.
Should Samsung be worried?