A million smart watches could be shipped this year

As the smartphone market slowly matures, we are starting to see more smart products, ranging from cameras and TVs to smart watches – which could reach as many as one million shipments this year.

Numerous technical problems have so far prevented smart watches them from gaining mainstream traction. Now that a number of companies are reportedly working on smart watch designs, things might be about to change.

ABI Research believes that the smart watch market could see plenty of growth this year. It projects shipments of more than 1.2 million units in 2013, which doesn’t sound like much compared to smartphone shipments, but then again we are dealing with an entirely new product category which is practically still in diapers.

ABI Research reckons a smart watch craze could be fueled by smartphones. Since smartphone penetration is already high in developed markets, there should be enough demand for smart watches, which can be viewed as elaborate smartphone accessories.

Some standalone smart watches with their own operating system are already moving beyond smartphone accessories, as they offer a lot of functionality sans smartphones. However, we still don’t know what Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and other players have in mind when it comes to smart watches and it is unclear what sort of functionality and sophistication we can expect from the contraptions.

ABI analyst Joshua Flood warns that smart watches that replicate the functionality of full-size smartphones are simply not feasible. There’s no shortage of technical obstacles that need to be tackled before we see smartphone functionality on smart watches, with battery life being the most obvious factor.