Apple Watch could lead to 7x increase in wearables market

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Apple Watch supply is finally catching up with demand.
The Apple Watch could trigger a drastic increase in wearable tech sales. Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

Apple’s great at hopping into new markets just as they’re set to explode, and it seems that the upcoming Apple Watch is no different.

Despite mixed reports about consumer interest, research firm IHS thinks demand for sensor-equipped wearable tech devices is going to see a major acceleration starting next year — largely thanks to Cupertino. Just how much of an increase are we talking about? Try 7x the size of the existing market by 2019, according to analysts.

“Similar to the iPhone and iPad, IHS expects the Apple Watch will set a de facto standard for sensor specifications in smartwatches,” says Jeremie Bouchaud, director and senior principal analyst, MEMS & Sensors. “Most other wearable [original equipment manufacturers] will follow Apple’s lead in [incorporating multiple sensors into devices] — or will add even more sensors to differentiate.”

IHS credits the rise of sensor-equipped devices with improved user interfaces (of the sort Apple has innovated with Apple Watch), along with the move from dumb single sensors of the past, such as pedometers, toward multipurpose devices like smartwatches.

Apple is perfectly poised to capitalize on this area, having assembled a veritable dream team of wearables experts, including numerous pioneers in the smart biosensor space. The Apple Watch itself features an accelerometer, gyroscope, microphone and pulse sensor — while other sensors will almost certainly be added in future iterations.

Apple is reportedly planning to launch the Apple Watch in February 2015, albeit with only a limited supply. In the meantime a select few Apple engineers are already busy testing the devices in the wild.

It’s not yet clear how many Apple Watches Cupertino is projecting to sell in its first year. One recent report claimed that Apple has placed orders for shipments of up to five million AMOLED panels per month, which would suggest sales of 50+ million units next year.

Some analysts are slightly more conservative, however, with Gene Munster recently predicting that Apple’s first year sales for Apple Watch will come in at around the 10 million mark.