Samsung Vice President James Kitto on the Connected World of Galaxy Buds, Galaxy Watch, and Galaxy Ring

Samsung Vice President James Kitto on the Connected World of Galaxy Buds, Galaxy Watch, and Galaxy Ring

Samsung took the wraps off the Galaxy Z Fold6 and Z Flip6 at its Galaxy Unpacked event on Wednesday, while also introducing a variety of wearable accessories packed with new hardware and capabilities.

Accessories have come a long way since the first smartphones were packaged with wired earphones in their retail packaging. Our modern-day headphones and smartwatches are now packed with so many advanced electronics that it feels like your ears have more power than the Apollo lunar lander’s computers… and Samsung has probably achieved the same for your finger with the new Galaxy Ring.

As Galaxy Unpacked products begin to emerge, I sat down with Samsung UK VP James Kitto to talk about the company’s approach to its accessories ecosystem. What will the new Galaxy Watch, Galaxy Buds, and Galaxy Ring products bring to the system? What does health data mean to consumers, and how will they help each other?

Firstly, how big is the potential market for accessories in the UK? “The core of our customer base continues to be our smartphone base. We’ve nurtured and built on that growth over the years,” Kitto explained. “There are currently around 23 million Galaxy phone users in the UK.”

Data from Next Move Strategy Consulting It points to a UK accessory market of 122.9 million units sold in 2023, rising to an estimated 174.2 million sales by 2030. That’s a big market for Samsung to address, and one reason why the company isn’t limiting compatibility to its own Galaxy devices – they operate in an open ecosystem, meaning they can be connected and used with pretty much any phone, tablet or laptop. Including Apple’s iPhone.

“Our products will work everywhere,” Kitto explained. “For the best experience… we say these products are built for our Galaxy customers. Some features are built and designed to work within the Galaxy ecosystem, which we have full control over.”

One of the benefits of having the entire accessory chain and a hub device (usually a smartphone) is the ability for accessories to work seamlessly with each other. Yes, accessories work with any phone, but Samsung’s goal is the classic ‘the sum is greater than the parts’ when you’re sitting completely inside the Galaxy universe.

“If you have multiple Samsung products, let’s say you have a tablet, a computer, and a phone, you can turn on your tablet, start watching a movie, and your Galaxy Buds will automatically connect to the tablet. When you turn them off, they’ll connect to your phone,” Kitto said.

Returning to the new products of Galaxy Unpacked, there is a specific example that I want to highlight. Both the Galaxy Watch and the Galaxy Ring, Samsung Health to track a range of physical signs, including heart rate. If you wear both, they will communicate and work together.

“If you’re wearing a Galaxy Watch and a Galaxy Ring, heart rate can be measured through the Galaxy Watch; the ecosystem will tell the Ring, ‘We don’t need a lot of heart rate data points, we’ll handle that in the watch,'” Kitto explains.

While this may feel unique, it’s something that everyone who uses any health accessory has experienced in the background. The Galaxy ecosystem (and arguably pretty much every health-focused ecosystem) has a central point that collects and processes all of its health information; in Samsung’s case, it’s the Samsung Health app running on a Galaxy Smartphone.

“Samsung Health becomes the center of your Health Data universe, locked into the device that is personal to you, powered by AI, fully secured by Knox,” Kitto said, emphasizing the care taken to protect your personal data. “This is a very secure set of health data, but it is then analyzed by AI and various other algorithms and presented to you.”

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“It’s important to differentiate between generative AI and algorithmic AI. Samsung Health looks at specific health data and relies on specific pattern recognition and pairs that with core preset algorithms to make recommendations to the customer,” Kitto said.

Still, all of this can add up quickly, even with the base models shown at Galaxy Unpacked. You’ve got your central Galaxy smartphone (let’s start with the new Galaxy Z Flip6 for £1,049/$1,099), the Galaxy Watch7 for £289/$299 and the Galaxy Ring for £399/$399… that’s the best part of £1,700 for the full health system on offer (and you’re approaching £2,000 if you add a new set of Galaxy Buds3 Pro for £219/$279).

Are consumers ready to pay that much?

“They understand the relationship between action and health outcomes and they want to take control of that. And now it’s actually very accessible and affordable to say you can track your heart rate. You can track your steps and your activity rate throughout the day,” Kitto said.

“If you look at product ownership around smartphones, consumers in the UK, regardless of brand, you can see that most smartphone users will choose to add a pair of headphones or earphones because they want that experience. And as I mentioned, we have a third of consumers in the UK.”

Accessories have come a long way since the wired headphones of the first smartphones, but there’s a clear stepping stone from those early days to the highly connected hardware we have today. Samsung’s accessories may stand alone, but the value proposition lies in buying every single piece of the Galaxy ecosystem.

Add the software suite from Galaxy AI to accessories over the next few years, and you have a world that Samsung hopes will welcome tens of millions of new consumers worldwide and offer more value to its existing user base. Stacking Samsung’s accessories means more value for the consumer, but it also gives Samsung a chance to build a long-term relationship with those consumers and keep them within its ecosystem for years to come.

Learn more about Galaxy Z Fold6 and Z Flip6 pre-order offers now…