2014 will be the Year of the Smartwatch

by Sam Loveridge 17 July 2013 (TrustedReviews)
2014 will be the year of the smartwatch, predict analysts, with over 5 million units shipped during those twelve months. 

As Samsung, Apple, Google and Microsoft are predicted to launch their own smartwatch offerings next year, analysis firm Canalys predicts the market for wrist-worn devices will surge during 2014. 

Although around 500,000 smartwatch units are estimated to be shipped this year due to the Kickstarter-backed Pebble watch and Sony SmartWatch 2, that figure is expected to increase by 900 per cent the following year.

Across the world in 2014, smartwatch shipments will exceed 5 million as Google, Microsoft, Samsung and Apple launch devices of their own. “Smartwatches will be the most important new product category in consumer electronics since the iPad defined the market for tablets”, said Chris Jones, VP and Principal Analyst and Canalys. “Software platforms tied to smartwatches will also be a tremendous opportunity for developers to write apps in categories such as health and wellness or sports and fitness.”

Focusing on “glanceable” information, key features for smartwatches will be how they integrate online features such as navigation, email and social media. 

Not intended to replace smartphones altogether, Canalys believes smartwatches will be used as companion devices or what it calls “appcessories”. “An effective smartwatch won’t just be a second screen for a smartphone,” said James Wang, Canalys analyst. “Creating a competent developer platform specifically for the form factor will be an enormous challenge.” 

As with smartphones, consumers will require their smartwatches to be fashion conscious, but more importantly host a wealth of compelling apps to make the device a viable option.

“Google and Microsoft must execute more successfully than they have done with their tablet platforms and will have to adapt their business models appropriately,” advises Wang.

Canalys also believes that the market for traditional watches will be affected by the appearance of smartwatches, especially if they add “sufficiently valuable functionality” to their everyday lives.