Samsung leading smart band market; Apple expected to catch up soon: Canalys

Android Wear carved out a significant chunk of the wearables market in 2014, but more upheaval courtesy of Apple is expected soon.

If 2014 was all about the introduction of wearable technology, analysts continue to reassert we will see veritable market share shifts and sales during 2015.

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At the front of the heap thus far is Samsung, according to a new report from market research firm Canalys.

Canalys vice president and principal analyst Chris Jones noted in the report that the Korean tech giant issued six devices on different mobile operating systems over just 14 months, asserting it "still leads the smart band market."

However, Jones countered Samsung has "has struggled to keep consumers engaged and must work hard to attract developers while it focuses on Tizen for its wearables."

Android Wear, the wearables-focused arm of Google's mobile platform, has already carved out a significant chunk of the market for itself, shipping more than 720,000 devices since debuting midway through 2014.

Propelled by the Moto 360, Canalys highlighed as Motorola as the leader within this particular realm followed by LG, Sony and Asus.

Outside of the Android ecosystem, Pebble continues to hold strong with one million units shipped since launching in 2013.

Xiaomi also shipped over a million units of its Mi Band, which included one day that produced over 103,000 units sold.

Overall, Canalys counted roughly 4.6 million smart wearable bands shipped worldwide in 2014.

But the entire leaderboard and spectrum are poised for disruption once again as Apple prepares to roll out its long awaited Apple Watch this April.

While speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook quipped one of the biggest surprises to Apple Watch will be "the breadth of what it can do."

Canalys analyst Daniel Matte warned in the report that Android Wear needs to take a proactive approach to getting improvements in now.

Matte wrote:

All eyes are now on Apple, which will reveal further details about the Apple Watch prior to its release in April. The product will dramatically grow the market for smart bands and wearables overall. Apple made the right decisions with its WatchKit software development kit to maximize battery life for the platform, and the Apple Watch will offer leading energy efficiency.