Samsung may team up with US clothes maker for wearable devices, sources say

Samsung Electronics is expected to team up with US sports clothing maker Under Armour Inc. in a move that would help the world's No. 1 smartphone maker make inroads into the global wearable devices market, according to industry sources on Wednesday.

The reports came following a meeting that reportedly took place between Samsung heir Lee Jay-yong and Kelvin Plank, the founder and chief executive officer of Under Armour here earlier this month.

The two are said to have discussed ways of countering the collaboration between Apple Inc. and Nike Inc. in the wearable devices sector, the sources said.

Samsung officials declined to comment on the meeting.

Apple and Nike have been making efforts to seek convergence between sportswear and smart devices since 2006. They rolled out the Nike + iPod Sport Kit, which came with a wireless sensor that could be integrated into shoes and sends data on time, distance, pace and calories burned to Apple's products.

In 2012, Nike released FuelBand, a wearable device that only connects to Apple products. Industry watchers said Nike will eventually reduce its wearable business to focus on the US tech giant's first wearable device set to be released later this year, speculated to be called the "iWatch."

While Apple is yet to release its first wearable smart device, Samsung jumped into the new market in September last year with the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which works on US-based Google Inc.'s Android platform.

This year, it rolled out the Galaxy Gear Fit, which works on a real-time operating system, as well as the Tizen-powered Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Neo. Last month, it also debuted the Samsung Gear Live, the first in a lineup that works under Google Inc.'s Android Wear platform.

Samsung is estimated to have seized 71 per cent of the global wearable market in the first quarter of this year by shipping out some 500,000 units. The company's dominance, however, is expected to be threatened by Apple's first full-fledged wearable device set to be launched in October this year.

The global market for wearable devices is expected to reach $6 billion over the next two years, industry watchers said. The wearable industry has come under the spotlight as the smartphone and tablet markets appear to be quickly reaching saturation.

Last week, Samsung, which depends on smartphones for the bulk of its profit, said its estimated second-quarter operating profit would drop to a lower-than-expected 7.2 trillion won ($7.01 billion).

The figure reflects a 24.4 per cent fall from its operating profit of 9.53 trillion won last year. Analysts here attributed the sluggish earnings to slow sales of Samsung handsets, both at the low- and high-end levels.