Apple to launch Watch with sales of over 15 million this year anticipated
Apple is tipped to sell at least 15 million units of its new 'Watch' smartwatch this year, as the company gets ready to unveil the gadget this evening.
The product is expected to add over €7bn in additional annual revenue for the tech giant, which has seen its valuation rise to almost €700bn in recent weeks thanks to strong sales of its iPhone 6.
Industry analysts predict that the watch, which is the most anticipated technology launch of the year, will be sought out by consumers looking for the next big thing in consumer technology.
"The Apple Watch is the catalyst to ignite the global smartwatch market," said Neil Mawston, a director of Strategy Analytics. "Apple's famous brand, loyal fan base, deep retail presence and extensive apps ecosystem will ensure healthy uptake for its Watch."
Strategy Analytics predicts that Apple will sell 15 million units of the device this year, taking a 55pc share of the smartwatch market.
It estimates that over half of the device's sales will occur in the run-up to Christmas.
Other analysts take a more bullish view, with UBS Bank estimating that Apple will sell 24 million of the devices this year.
One analyst firm - Global Equities Research - predicts sales of 42 million Watch units in 2015, which could add up to €20bn in annual revenue to the world's most valuable company.
At 6pm this evening, Apple will reveal the gadget's complete pricing, sale dates and features.
Apple has already said that the device will start at $350 (€320) but has not said what premium versions will cost or when it will start shipping. A premium version set in gold is set to be part of the initial line-up, with early reports estimating a price close to €5,000.
The Watch is equipped with a chip to allow it make payments in shops as part of Apple Pay, the new mobile payment system introduced by the company in the US last year. It has a square touchscreen that controls custom-made apps and its battery life is said to last a single day.
Early reports from test users suggest that it is being used as a buffer against having to repeatedly remove a smartphone from pockets, as messages and alerts are screened.
The Watch was originally revealed by Apple last September as it invited developers to create apps that might sustain its new software ecosystem.