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Smart Watches Will Hit 39M By 2018: IHS

ENGLEWOOD, COLO. — Global smart-watch shipments are likely to be limited in the near term, according to a preliminary forecast issued by IHS.

Shipments are expected to reach 268,000 in 2013, and will hit 2.6 million units in 2014. In the longer term, shipments are expected to reach much higher volumes, with units rising to nearly 39 million units in 2018, the research firm said.

“Most of the smart watches set to be introduced into the market in the near term are expected to use a similar approach as the [Samsung] Galaxy Gear device, with the devices only working as accessories to smartphones,” said Shane Walker, IHS medical devices and healthcare IT senior manager. “Uptake will be constrained if the smart watch simply serves as a second display for a smartphone, because there already is significant competition from dedicated devices serving performance-monitoring products. To achieve its market potential, the smart watch must work as a stand-alone device, with features that are compatible with the wristwatch form factor.”

IHS praised Qualcomm’s Toq smart watch, with Francis Sideco, consumer electronics and communications technologies director, saying it appears to be “a compelling and easy-to-use product.” Sideco noted that cost will play a large role in its appeal to consumers.