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Samsung dominates as smartwatch market doubles in size

Samsung Galaxy Gear watches made up 70 percent of the smartwatch market as shipments more than doubled in the first three months of 2014.

The market for smartwatches like the Samsung Gear 2 more than doubled in Q1 2014. Sarah Tew/CNET

Half a million Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatches have been dispatched into the world this year, with Samsung hogging 70 percent of the fast-growing market for connected timepieces.

Analysts Strategy Analytics have crunched the numbers for the wrist-worn wearable devices set to be the next big thing in gadgetry, and in the first three months of the year, shipments of smartwatches have grown by a whopping 250 percent.

Samsung declined to comment.

The figures only cover Q1 2014, so the numbers don't include the new Gear 2 smartwatch, the cheaper Gear 2 Neo watch or the Gear Fit fitness tracker bracelet.

These figures cover devices shipped, not sold -- that is, devices sent to shops rather than actually sold to customers like you and me. They're still significant, though, for two reasons: firstly, shops don't make a habit of ordering stuff they don't think they can sell. And secondly, it shows how Samsung dominates the market for smartwatches.

That dominance may slip as more companies race to wrap smartwatches round your wrist, but with Samsung's deep pockets for advertising, rivals will have their work cut out.

Various companies including Sony already make smartwatches but it seems no-one's buying them. Perhaps that will change when Google's Android Wear software comes along, probably beginning with the LG G Watch. It remains to be seen whether Android Wear will give smartwatch manufacturers like LG and Motorola the boost that original Android gave phone manufacturers like HTC and latterly Samsung.

Other rivals include assorted smaller manufacturers, the best-known of which is Pebble . But that's not to mention the elephant in the room: Apple. It was rumours of an Apple iWatch that kicked off the latest round of interest in smartwatches, but as yet there's been no official word on a wearable device from Jobs' mob.

Analysts have previously predicted that wearable shipments are set to triple this year, and could hit as many as 112 million shipped by 2018.