Smartphone-makers begin battle for wrists

The unveiling of California-based Apple's first smart watch, the Apple Watch, on Monday has spurred mixed market reactions with some saying the digital wristwatch failed to meet expectations while others said the wearable would create an ecosystem for smart watches.

One thing for sure, according to many market analysts, is that competition will shift from mobile users' hands to their wrists at a faster pace.

Strategy Analytics forecast that global smartwatch shipments would grow around 510 per cent this year from 4.6 million units to 28.1 million units.

Some market analysts also anticipated that more device-makers would jump on the bandwagon and fuel competition in the fledgling market for wearable devices.

"The smart watch market will soon become a mass market as more manufacturers including those from China will likely roll out similar products down the road," said Kim Yang-jae, an analyst from KTB Investment and Securities.

Sales forecasts of the Apple Watch ranged from 15 million to 20 million units.

Some even predicted sales in the first year would reach 21 million units, surpassing the success of the first iPad ― which sold 19.5 million units in 2010.

Korean smartphone-makers Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are considered to be more seasoned players in the smart watch industry as both have rolled out a series of the wearable devices since 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Most recently LG stunned its rivals by showcasing the world's first Long Term Evolution-supported smart watch, the Watch Urbane, at the Mobile World Congress trade show held in Barcelona last week.

LG's new smart watch, which is expected to be released in April in South Korea, boasts a 700 mAh battery, double the capacity of the battery featured in Samsung's Gear S.

Some even speculated that Samsung held off the unveiling of its new smart watch, named Orbis, at the mobile trade show due partly to the Urbane and its high specs.

Having spearheaded the wearable segment since 2013, Samsung is nonetheless the clear front-runner in the global smart watch market, selling 1.2 million units last year to account for a 23 per cent market share, according to a report compiled by research firm Smartwatch Group.

The Seoul-based tech giant has released a total of three smart watches including the first Galaxy Gear and the latest stand-alone Gear S.

At a press conference at the trade show in Barcelona, Shin Jong-kyun, the chief of Samsung's mobile business unit, hinted that the firm had another wearable product up its sleeve.

He also said the firm was fine-tuning the details of the unveiling plan for the product, which would surprise the world.

"From health monitoring systems and various watch faces to LTE services and mobile payment solutions, device-makers will further try to provide more value that caters to consumers' tastes," an industry official said.

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