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Apple, whose only wearable is expected to be its highly-anticipated Apple Watch smartwatch, will sell 20 million units, accounting for a quarter of the entire wearables market in 2015, according to the technology analyst firm CCS Insight.
"The Apple Watch will be instrumental in taking the wearables market to the next level of growth. If successful, it'll create a rising tide that will lift the whole market," said Ben Wood, Chief of Research for CCS Insight, in a statement.
The group's conclusions align with those of Canalys, another market research firm. "All eyes are now on Apple," said the firm, expecting Apple Watch to hit store shelves sometime in April. When it does, the iPhone-friendly smartwatch will "dramatically grow" the wearables market, the company boasted.
CCS expects that an estimated 7 percent of iPhone owners with compatible handsets – Apple Watch requires an iPhone 5 and up – to pick up the device when it launches.
"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. Conversely, if Apple Watch proves to be a dud, CCS cautions that "it could hurt the whole smartwatch market." Regardless, the firm expects Apple to leverage its premium brand and exert its legendary "marketing arsenal" to help elevate the device into a "must-have status symbol."
Despite the deafening buzz surrounding Apple's wearable, Android users will have plenty of options.
"People without an iPhone will still have a huge choice of alternative wearables," continued Wood. "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."
By 2018, CSS predicts that the wearables market will reach 172 million units, a dramatic jump for 29 million units in 2014. The bulk of those devices are expected to come from the smartwatch and fitness tracker categories.
Fitness buff and health watchers will also drive demand for wearables, said CCS Insight analyst George Jijiashvili.
CCS predicts "sales of fitness and activity devices to double in 2015 to 40 million units. In contrast to many other commentators, "we don't believe smartwatches will dent sales of fitness products in the short term," he remarked in a statement. A head start along with lower prices and long-lasting batteries will help the device category "outperform smartwatches for several years to come," he added.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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