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LG’s wearable strategy calls for a smartwatch for every taste (and age)

While its competitors Motorola and Samsung are releasing single smartwatches, LG, like Apple, thinks that variety is better.

It now has two wrist wearables coming to market the G Watch and G Watch R coming to market, and it’s planning a third: the Kizon for children. According to LG senior brand manager for marketing Frank Lee, that’s just the beginning.

I sat down with Lee at CTIA Wireless in Las Vegas on Wednesday to check out the new Watch R that debuted last week, but more interestingly Lee gave me some insight into LG’s future plans for the smartwatch. It doesn’t want to build a single iconic device. It wants to build several. And it wants to take advantage of new technologies like the bendable organic LED technology in its LG G Flex to make those watches truly unique.

The various form factors of LG smartwatches (photo: Kevin Fitchard)
The various form factors of LG smartwatches (photo: Kevin Fitchard)

While its first crack at the smartwatch, the rectilinear G Watch, is clearly targeted at techie crowd wanting to replicate smartphone features on a wrist-sized screen, the perfectly round face of the Watch R is intended to attract a more fashion-conscious crowd, Lee said. LG also plans to launch a kid’s watch in the U.S. called the Kizon, which isn’t a smartwatch so much as a 2G wrist phone. It’s designed to track a child’s location and put them in instant voice contact with their parents at a touch of the button. The Kizon is already available in Korea, but Lee said LG is finalizing deals with carrier partners to sell it in the U.S.

But Lee said the wrist wearable space would get really interesting when the next generation of devices are released. LG designers are already exploring several concepts, including a wearable that makes no distinction between band and device. Instead, LG’s flexible OLED technology would create a screen that wraps around the entire wrist. LG is also investigating a concept that makes use of multiple individual screens linked together on a band.

Lee stressed that these are both concepts that may never wind up in commercial products, but they’re indicative of how LG is thinking about the wearable space. As it gets feedback from customers using the G Watch and Watch R, it will decide on the form factors its next generation wearables will take.

“Today everyone has a clock in their smartphone, so many people are wearing watches for aesthetic reasons,” Lee said. “Timepieces today are used to make statements.” And LG is obviously thinking of new ways to make those kind of statements.

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