“There is a tremendous opportunity at the intersection of health and technology,” said Samsung’s Young Sohn on May 28, as he took the stage at a San Francisco event to present the Korean company’s vision for the future of wearables.
Samsung is already deeply invested in wearables, with an entire lineup of smartwatches running Android Wear or the homegrown Tizen, and a rumored head-mounted unit coming later this year. But Samsung wants to be more than just another maker of smartwatches and fitness bands. It wants to create a platform that others can join and contribute to.
“This is a big enough challenge—we cannot do it alone, we have to do it with partners,” said Sohn, in charge with strategy at Samsung’s Device Solutions division.
One partner that could help Samsung realize its platform vision is US-based athletic apparel maker Under Armour. Market sources cited by Korea’s Yonhap agency claim Samsung and Under Armour would “join hands” in a bid to expand their presence in the global wearable market.
The heir apparent of the Samsung Group, Lee Jay-yong, reportedly met with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank to discuss collaboration opportunities, including a way for the companies to counter the partnership between Apple and Nike.
Under Armour is already selling third-party fitness accessories on its website, as well as an own-brand performance monitoring chest strap called Armour39. The athletic goods maker could use a partnership with a strong player like Samsung, at a time when the market is flooded with fitness monitors and smartwatches from competitors large and small. Telling for how hard it is to make it in this arena, Even Nike, with its Apple tie-in and substantial resources, is reportedly going to stop making devices, and concentrate on software instead.
For Samsung, healthcare and wearables are two potential avenues of growth in the close future, at a time when its smartphone business is misfiring. Having the product expertise of a fitness specialist like Under Armour could help differentiate and enhance Samsung’s products.
Samsung and Under Armour have both declined to comment on the report.