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Not even Chinese pirates want Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch

Published Jan 16th, 2014 12:50PM EST
Galaxy Gear knockoffs

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The Galaxy Gear is so unpopular that when CNN visited the epicenter of Chinese counterfeit electronics, they could not find one Galaxy Gear knockoff. “[Counterfeiters] don’t care about the Gear as consumer demand is too weak,” said one shop assistant. “We don’t sell it anymore. It was not popular.”

CNN visited 20 shops in Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei commercial district and none of them sold a counterfeit Galaxy Gear. “I’ve never seen a knock-off Gear in this whole town,” said one woman whose shop actually sells the real Galaxy Gear. “They don’t sell well.”

China’s counterfeit shops are often leading indicators of what tech gadgets will be popular. In 2007, they were selling iPhone knockoffs before the first iPhone was available for sale. And today, many of the shops sell knockoffs of the latest iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, devices that launched at about the same time as the Galaxy Gear.

These shops are just as likely to drop an unpopular item as they are to pick up a hot new item. “This is a warp-speed market economy, where every product faces an ‘up or out’ decision on a daily basis. Competition is brutal,” said Alf Rehn, a management professor at the Åbo Akademi University in Finland.

This could be bad news for the future of wearable devices, or perhaps just bad news for the Galaxy Gear. The smartwatch has received poor reviews from just about everyone — even Samsung executive David Eun has called the Gear an unripened “small green tomato.”