Samsung Seeking Growth in the Booming Tech 'Wearables' Market

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Samsung (SSNLF) -- the South Korean electronics giant that makes Galaxy, one of the world's most popular smartphones -- is looking to solidify its foothold in the market of wearable devices by teaming up with apparel and accessories maker Under Armour (UA) .

South Korea's Yonhap news agency has reported that Lee Jay-yong, vice chairman of Samsung's electronics division and the heir apparent to the top job, met with Under Armour founder and CEO Kelvin Plank earlier this month. The meeting could be a response to the long-standing partnership between Samsung's biggest rival, Apple (AAPL), and Under Amour competitor Nike (NKE).

According to research firm IDC, the wearables market is expected to grow almost 80% per year through 2018. Samsung already dominates the smartwatch marketplace and is looking to expand beyond wrist-wearables. 

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Shares of Samsung, which trade in the U.S. on the over-the-counter Bulletin Board, have risen by 7.7% this year, exchanging hands recently at around $1,400. The Nasdaq Composite Index has risen 5.9% so far this year.

The company already has a number of wearable devices under its belt. It launched its smartwatch, called Galaxy Gear last year, followed by Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit. Last month, Samsung showcased its Gear Live smartwatch at Google's (GOOG)  developer conference.

Samsung has been the biggest player in the smartwatch market, commanding a 71% market share in the first three months of this year, thanks to the sale of 500,000 smartwatches.

In the first quarter of this year, the global smartwatch shipments shot up by 250% from the same period a year earlier, according to data provided by Strategy Analytics.

As expected, this growth was led by Samsung with its Galaxy Gear models which outperformed all of its major competitors, including Pebble, a smartwatch that has been funded by Kickstarter, a crowd-funding firm.

Wearable technology, however, is a booming marketplace, and a lot can change as the industry grows.

IDC has forecast more than 19 million global shipments of wearables, such as FuelBand, and smart wearables, such as Google Glass, for this year. That is more than three times as large as last year. Moreover, the sales volume could swell to 112 million units by 2018, implying an annual growth of 78.4%.

BCC Research predicts that smartwatches could generate annual revenue of $12.5 billion by 2018.

The competition will heat up with the increasing size of the wearables market. Samsung is reportedly preparing to launch a device that would compete with Google Glass. The company has already applied for a trademark for "Samsung Gear Blink", which could be launched as early as September.

The biggest threat to Samsung in the smartwatch sector may come from Apple, which has been gearing up to launch its highly anticipated iWatch. Apple is expected to launch its device this year.

Other companies, such as Motorola, which was acquired by China's  Lenovo (LNVGY) in a $2.9 billion deal, and South Korea's LG Electronics  (LGEAF) are also expected to launch their Android-based smartwatches later this year.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.

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