Samsung says it sold 800k smartwatches, but who’s buying them?

When is a sale not a sale? Although it’s been widely reported that Samsung sold 800,000 of its new Galaxy Gear smartwatch, there’s no evidence that all those watches are actually in customer hands (or… wrists in this case.)

This is merely another case where the manufacturer is telling the truth, but the truth doesn’t tell the story. Samsung has very likely sold 800,000 watches… to retailers around the world. GigaOM claims the number of watches that reached customer wrists is more like 50,000. That leaves a lot of Galaxy Gears sitting in warehouses unsold, and that makes the story make a lot of sense.

Smart watches were supposed to be the big story of 2013. We doubted it right up front, let’s set the record straight. It’s not really Samsung’s fault… you can lob a lot of criticism at the Galaxy Gear but at the end of the day it’s just not something people want. Apple wisely chose not to develop a watch and so far that’s looking like a good idea.

So now, it looks like there are about three quarters of a million Galaxy Gears which will end up on auction sites and eventually in the hands of recyclers. It will become a Jeopardy question, a footnote in lists of “27 bad ideas of the 2010s” and a “hey remember when…” topic of conversation. That’s a good thing… and maybe it means we can get back to designing devices that people actually want to buy. It’s “about time” we did that.