Their latest global market study found that shipments of smart watches 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 and ticketing.
According to Juniper's assessment, the multi-function smart watch segment will be propelled by the emergence of players such as Apple and Samsung.
Why Apple and Samsung are Key Players
Juniper contends that the entrance of Apple and Samsung into this sector -- as suggested by recent trademarks and patents -- will help to validate the category and act as the impetus for other competitors to enter the high-growth wearable devices space.
"By educating and publicising this digital device segment to the consumer, Apple and Samsung will indeed act as a catalyst to the market," said Nitin Bhas, senior analyst at Juniper Research.
In addition, being a key influencer, these large consumer electronics company's entry into the smart watch segment will benefit existing players -- by providing an increase in awareness and adoption of other related wearable digital devices.
Juniper noted however that both smart watch categories -- Dashboard/Console and Multi-function -- will only appeal to a niche demographic when compared to media tablets and smartphones. Therefore, the purpose-built wearable devices market potential may be limited -- depending upon how this segment evolves.
Premium and Standard Models to Differentiate Smart Watches
Juniper defines multi-function smart watches as premium products, thereby differentiating them from existing products such as the Pebble and the Sony Smart Watch. This is expected to result in a multiple price band category similar to the current smartphone market.
Therefore, while the average retail cost for dashboard/console smart watches will decline over the forecast period, pricing for the multi-function devices will remain almost constant.
Other key findings from the study include:
- Significant opportunities will arise for app developers -- across the health, fitness, sports and communications segments.
- App-enabled mobile wireless accessory shipments will approach 170 million by 2018.