Apple iWatch: More Than Just an iPhone Add-On

Tickers in this article: AAPL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The oft-rumored Apple iWatch gets as much attention from the media, Wall Street and consumers as products that actually exist, and one analyst noted the iWatch will be more than just something to pair with an iPhone.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, he of the $777 price target, wrote in a research report that the iWatch may actually do more than people think. Citing an Apple supplier, White noted the device could allow consumers to control their home.

"As an Apple supplier, our contact offered insight into the "iWatch" and described this potential new device as much more than an extension of your iPhone but as a multi-purpose gateway in allowing consumers to control their home (i.e., heating/cooling, lights, audio, video, etc.)," White wrote in the report.

Apple shares were higher in Thursday trading, gaining 0.93% to $491.11, as the broader market gained on hopes of ending the government shutdown and passing a debt ceiling bill.

In contrast, Samsung's smartwatch, the first wearable technology in its Galaxy Gear line, pairs with the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone. Its primary use is to make and receive calls, check text messages, and perform other similar functions of a smartphone.

White believes that Apple will launch the iWatch before the end of next year.

There's been much speculation surrounding a potential smart watch since Apple CEO Tim Cook discussed wearable technology as a  "profound opportunity" at the D11 conference in May of this year. "The wrist is interesting," Apple's CEO said. "You still have to convince people it is worth wearing."

The addressable market for wearable technology is growing rapidly, and is expected to surpass $8 billion in revenue by 2018, selling more than 130 million units globally, according to a recent industry research report . Apple could potentially capture a large portion of this market with the iWatch.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who rates Apple shares "buy" with a $640 price target, wrote Apple could sell as many as 5 million to 10 million iWatches in the first year of availability.

"We believe that a 5-10 million unit sales tally for the first year would mean about 2-4% penetration of a rough iPhone user base projection of ~293 million units (combined sales in 2012/2013)," Munster wrote in a recent research note. "While we do not view the watch as a likely needle-mover for Apple in terms of revenue in 2014, we put it in a similar category as the television in that it could demonstrate Apple's ability to innovate (good for the multiple) and potentially lead to a more meaningful new product category in wearable tech."

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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