Android OS dominates smart watch market

Google's Android operating system (OS) is dominating more than just smartphone shipments, according to latest figures from Strategy Analytics.

The research company revealed that Android was the most-used operating system in smart watches shipped during 2013, accounting for 61 per cent of total shipments during the year. Other operating systems, including Pebble OS and Micrium, took a combined 38.4 per cent of 2013 shipments, and Firefox OS 0.5 per cent.

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, told Fierce Wireless:Europe that total smart watch shipments grew from 300,000 units in 2012 to 1.9 million in 2013.

In a company statement, Mawston added that Android's growth in the sector "has been driven mostly by Samsung's Galaxy Gear model, which is being promoted heavily in major countries such as the U.S., UK and South Korea." Shipments of watches running the software were higher than the "rest of the entire market combined", he said.

However, the research company also observed that Android is not lacking rivals in this market: Senior analyst Woody Oh said the OS "currently has several challengers in the smart watch space, like Firefox and Pebble OS," although Oh added that Android's competitors are currently restricted by "their relatively limited ecosystems and modest retail presence".

Apple has yet to launch smart watch devices, and Oh said the U.S. company could eat into Android's market share when it does.

Other companies including "Microsoft, and perhaps Tizen" also have the potential scale or marketing power to offer a credible alternative to Google's popular platform," Oh added.

Overall growth in smart watch shipments was also aided by many of the devices being bundled with smartphones sold during 2013, the research company said.

Gartner also recently said that the broader wearable device market is likely to remain closely linked to mobile phones in the coming years, because wearables will have little or no user interface capabilities. Mobile apps will provide the link between the wearable and mobile device--an approach that research director Brian Blau said enables wearable manufacturers "to keep these devices small and efficient".

For more:
- see Strategy Analytics' release
- see this Gartner forecast

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