Apple will emerge as top smartwatch vendor in 2015

The Apple Watch during an Apple event in Cupertino, California
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Apple may be late to the game with its smartwatch, with a number of prominent industry players from Samsung to Xiaomi having already launched their wrist-worn devices, but tardiness won't hinder its success, say analysts.

The Cupertino-based company is forecast to become the world's top smartwatch vendor in 2015, according to Strategy Analytics, with 15 million smartwatch shipments expected this year, translating into a 55 percent global market share.

"The Apple Watch is the catalyst to ignite the global smartwatch market," Strategy Analytics wrote in a blog post on Thursday.

Global smartwatch shipments are forecast to surge over 500 percent from 4.6 percent million units in 2014 to 28.1 million units in 2015, with the bulk of growth coming from the Apple device, the firm said.

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"Apple's famous brand, loyal fan base, deep retail presence and extensive apps ecosystem will ensure healthy uptake for its watch," it said.

Launch imminent

Apple's smartwatch – positioned both as a fashion accessory and tech gadget – is widely expected to be launched at a media event in San Francisco on March 9.

While the tech giant showed off the Apple Watch at its iPhone launch last October, the company has since held its cards close, revealing minimal information about the wearable device.

Read MoreApple to hold Watch event March 9

According to Reuters, the watch which will let consumers check their email, pay for goods at retail stores and monitor personal health information.

So far, the company has only disclosed the price tag of the sports model of the watch, which will cost about $350. The higher-end model, which features an 18-karat gold casing, could cost as much as $5,000, according to analysts.

Industry game changer

Market intelligence firm Tractica agrees the Apple Watch will be a game changer for the entire smartwatch market.

Apple's biggest new product introduction since the iPad is anticipated to stimulate a surge in consumer awareness and adoption of smart watches, Tractica said.

The Apple Watch will contribute 16.7 million units to the annual total of 24.4 million smart watches shipped during 2015, it predicts.

"2015 will be the year of the smart watch," said Aditya Kaul, research director at Tractica.

"Since Apple's announcement, there has been a flurry of activity among competitors trying to position and reposition themselves, and we expect a high degree of experimentation in terms of form factor, functionality, and operating system, offering consumers a wide range of options."

-- Cadie Thompson contributed to this report.