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Apple Watch will drive the success of the smartwatch market

The Apple Watch is set to fuel a smartwatch boom – we’ve heard this before, of course, pretty much ever since Cupertino’s timepiece was announced, but the latest IHS report on the matter has put some new figures and perspective on the levels of expected growth.

3.6 million smartwatches were sold last year, and that will grow to 101 million by the year 2020, IHS reckons, with Apple’s new device helping to raise consumer awareness and push the benefits of a smartwatch into the public consciousness.

Above all, this is good news for Google, IHS argues, as those who don’t own an iPhone, or don’t want to fork out £299 (at least) for a smartwatch, will be buying more wallet-friendly Android Wear devices.

Antonios Maroulis, analyst at IHS Technology, observed: “Apple Watch success will drive the overall smartwatch market. The smartwatch will become a key accessory device offered by most leading smartphone manufacturers seeking to dominate this new profitable market. We forecast the ratio of smartwatch shipments to smartphone shipments will increase from 1:500 to 1:20 between 2014 and 2020.”

The Apple Watch will be a major success, though, according to IHS, with the firm forecasting 19 million units shipped this year to give Cupertino a 56 per cent market share. That market share will then dip to 38 per cent come 2020, with the aforementioned Android Wear players making hay…

Indeed, Android Wear shipments will be 96 million units over the next five years, IHS contends – and Google could further press its advantage by bringing in support for iPhones.

Ian Fogg, senior director of Mobile & Telecoms at IHS, commented: “Should Apple stumble with its foray into smartwatches, the smartwatch market will suffer similarly. 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. Apple’s smartwatch competitors need the Apple Watch to succeed.”

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Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.