In its latest report, Juniper Research forecasts that app-enabled smart watch shipments will reach 36 million per annum by 2018, up from just over 1 million this year.
The research firm argues that the growth will be driven by a new multi-function segment capable of performing an array of additional functionalities such as tracking fitness and sports activities, payments or ticketing compared to the more limited Dashboard/Console segment.
According to Juniper, the entrance of Apple and Samsung into this sector will help to validate the category and act as a catalyst for other competitors to enter the space.
However, the report noted that both smart watch categories, Dashboard/Console and Multi-function, will only appeal to a niche demographic when compared to tablets and smartphones, and hence the market potential will be comparatively limited.
Overall, app-enabled mobile wireless accessory shipments are expected to approach 170 million by 2018, representing a significant opportunity for app developers across the health, fitness, sports and communications segments.