The ratio of smartphone shipments, compared to smartwatch ones, currently sits at around 500 to 1. Small-fry indeed.
But, within five years, this ratio is set to drop to around 20 to 1; with an estimated 101 million smartwatch shipments taking place by 2020.
These are the forecasts of IHS Technology, who are pinning the hopes of the smartwatch market well and truly at Apple and Google’s door.
“Apple Watch success will drive the overall smartwatch market,” said IHS analyst Antonios Maroulis. “The smartwatch will become a key accessory device offered by most leading smartphone manufacturers seeking to dominate this new profitable market.”
“Apple’s smartwatch competitors need the Apple Watch to succeed,” added Ian Fogg, senior director of Mobile & Telecoms at IHS.
“Should Apple stumble with its foray into smartwatches, the smartwatch market will suffer similarly,” he explained.
“Smartwatches could then follow the fate of Google Glass. Without Apple and its marketing strength, the smartwatch category needs greater marketing spend from other smartwatch makers to overcome damage to consumer perceptions.”
IHS’ forecasts are based on Apple shifting around 19 million of its just-launched smartwatches this year; resulting in an estimated 56% of the market share.
That’s a pretty conservative prediction as, back in November, Morgan Stanley forecast 30 million Apple Watch sales in 2015. “Our 30m unit estimate implies 10% penetration into Apple’s 315m iPhone 5 or newer installed base exiting 2014, which is lower than iPad penetration of 14% in its first year but higher than iPhone at 7%,” it said.
Back to the IHS forecast and it’s stating, by 2020, the Cupertino tech giant’s share of the market would have shrunk to 38%, with 96 million Android Wear shipments helping Google to a 22% piece of the wearable pie. That leaves 40% of non-Apple or Google smartwatches – with the likes of Pebble, Microsoft and even Samsung, with its own Tizen software, potentially playing catch-up.
With Apple not revealing how many smartwatches it has sold so far (and not likely to at all, if Tim Cook’s comments are anything to go by), it’s hard to decipher just how likely these latest analyst forecasts are to ring true.
Take a look at one of my recent articles, Just How Big Can Wearable Tech Get?, for an idea of just how varied and seemingly unpredictable the embryonic smartwatch market is at present.
One thing is clear: Apple has, at least in mainstream attention, once again raised the bar for a consumer tech form factor. Only time will tell if the smartwatch market lives up to the early hype.
This article was written by Paul Lamkin from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.