Will Google, Apple get the smartwatch industry to tick?

Julia Wood
Sean Gallup | Getty Images

The lackluster reception to Samsung's Galaxy Gear left many wondering if the smartwatch phenomenon was over before it started, but products from Google and Apple could get the industry to tick, analysts say.

According to Digitimes Research, the introduction of an Apple iWatch could be a major driver for the smartwatch industry given that the iPhone and iPad have been among the most disruptive forces in the smartphone and tablet markets in recent years.

"Apple's strong marketing is expected to help stimulate overall demand for smartwatches, while the U.S. vendor's brand power, which allows the company to price its products higher than the average, will help reduce the rate of decline of smart watch [average selling prices]," it wrote in a report.

(Read more: Why an iWatch may not be as big as an iPhone)

If Apple were to introduce the iWatch in the second half of 2014 it would boost Digitimes' 2014 and 2015 shipment forecasts by 225 percent and 268 percent respectively, it said.

However, mum's the word; while Apple patented the "iWatch" name there has been nothing but deafening silence on when it plans to launch a rival to the Galaxy Gear.

Google, too, may unveil a smartwatch according to recent reports. As the company pushes into the wearable technology space with Google Glass – due to hit retail stores in 2014 – there is talk that Google plans to launch a smartwatch.

Google's smartwatch expected

The device is reportedly in late-stage development, and could be ready for mass production within a matter of months, according to Wall Street Journal sources.

People familiar with the matter say the smartwatch will address several complaints critics had with Samsung's Galaxy Gear - namely the short battery life and limited features.

Chris Neiger of The Motley Fool expects Google Now – an application currently available on Google Glass – could set a Google smartwatch apart from the fray.

(Read more: Cramer: 'The curtain has closed' on Samsung's smartwatch)

"Google Now has unparalleled real-time information and can notify users when a package is delivered, display travel time to the next likely destination, give sports updates and appointment reminders all without asking… Adopting the program for a smartwatch would give users a better experience than any other current smartwatch on the market."

But will it be enough?

Following the launch of Samsung's Galaxy Gear, a CNBC online poll found only 12 percent of respondents would consider buying the device, while an overwhelming 71 percent weren't interested. The question remains: did the Galaxy Gear not deliver or are consumers generally just not interested in smartwatches?

A recent survey of luxury watchmakers by Deloitte showed that 59 percent of those surveyed do not consider smartwatch technology a threat to sales. The survey suggests that watchmakers don't expect smartwatches to serve as status symbols or fashion statements the way that traditional timepieces do.

Collaboration between luxury retailers and smartwatch makers is unlikely to provide the desired sales boost, according to research firm Euromonitor.

(Read more: Is Samsung focusing on a rival to Google Glass?)

While electronics companies have collaborated with fashion brands in the past, Euromontior analyst Gek Tan noted that the high-priced products that result from such collaborations "have not been able to gain a widespread following beyond a small niche."

Even if Vertu – the British manufacturer that sells exclusive high-end cell phones and recently unveiled a $10,000 Android-based device – were to enter the space with a luxury smartwatch, Tan said it would unlikely offer a product that matches the prestige of many traditional high-end timepieces.

"While it would be interesting, we do not expect Vertu to be able to alter the smart watch landscape," Tan said.