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Apple iWatch linked with 2013 release

Do consumers really want an iWatch? According to one analyst, the smart watch industry could generate more than $6 billion (£4 billion) in sales this year.

In an industry overview published today, Citigroup analyst Oliver Chen said that while the watch market has slowed since 2011 - when it grew about 20 per cent, compared to 2012's 10 per cent and this year's 7-9 per cent - watches overall are generally more profitable than other apparel.

"If smart watches can achieve ~10 per cent of this share this would yield a global addressable market of $6 billion," Chen wrote.

According to Bloomberg, Apple is poised to introduce an iWatch this year, and might "adapt its iOS mobile software to limit what information is sent to a wrist device."

But for the smart watch to succeed, it will need its own market, instead of a place among the fashion or luxury brands, Chen said. Competing with already successful brands will only hinder the smart watch's ability.

Meanwhile, the devices will need to have automated battery charging (i.e. solar-powered) to simplify the experience.

"We expect new smart watch functionality to be the most significant driver and a device's success or failure most likely depends on synergies with existing devices," Chen continued. "E-devices have been important holiday purchases for teens, which is a positive given pre-existing loyalty."

Apple might have some competition, as Chen expects Movado to release a touch-screen smartwatch. "We expect this to be successful based on our preview of this product combined with the strength of the core Movado brand," he wrote.

Apple recently secured an iWatch patent, which detailed a wearable accessory that connects to a portable device via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to display information in real time, with a battery, logic board, and other components mounted onto the wrist band. Apple, however, has not yet made any announcements about wearable tech.