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Despite sitting it out during the first quarter, Apple will beat out all smartwatch makers this year, according to a new report from technology research firm Strategy Analytics.
All eyes are on the Cupertino, Calif.-based device maker as it prepares for its anticipated Apple Watch event on Monday. The smartwatch, which is slated to go on sale in April for $349 (starting price), is buzzworthy not only as an extension of the company's popular iOS mobile ecosystem, but also for the effect it is expected to have on the wearables market.
In its forecast, Strategy Analytics predicted that Apple will ship 15.4 million smartwatches this year, enough to claim 54.8 percent of the smartwatch market. "Apple will quickly become the world’s number one smartwatch vendor," said the analyst group in a statement.
What's more, Apple Watch's arrival will help boost smartwatch demand overall.
"The Apple Watch is the catalyst to ignite the global smartwatch market," said Strategy Analytics. Worldwide smartwatch shipments will reach 28.1 million units in 2014, a whopping 511 percent gain from the 4.6 million units that shipped last year.
Strategy Analytics expects the Apple faithful to help make the device a hit, but the company will have little time to rest on its laurels.
"Apple's famous brand, loyal fan base, deep retail presence and extensive apps ecosystem will ensure healthy uptake for its Watch," stated the firm. Rivals, meanwhile are upping their game and stuffing their wearables with long-lived batteries. "Apple will need to upgrade tangibly its second-generation Watch to stay ahead of competitors later this year."
Strategy Analytics' forecast is conservative compared to predictions from other industry watchers.
Last month, CCS Insight said that it expects Apple to sell 20 million smartwatches in 2015, accounting for a quarter of the entire wearables market, a category that includes health and fitness trackers. Both firms agree that Apple's devoted customer base will help make its first stab at smartwatches a success, as well as benefit the entire market segment.
"The current love affair affluent US consumers have with the iPhone guarantees a strong start for the Apple Watch in its home market," said CCS in a statement. "If the Apple Watch performs as well as expected, its halo effect will result in a sales bonanza in the second half of 2015, with record-breaking shipments in the important fourth quarter."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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