With Apple, Samsung, Google, Microsoft, and possibly even Foxconn expected to launch their own smart watches in 2014, the market is set to boom with some 5 million of the wristwatch-style products sold, according to a new report from Canalys.

The firm expects the smart watch market to increase by 900 percent next year, as a selection of giants enter the arena with their own individual products, and suggests that 5 million smart watches could reach customers in 2014. This is a huge increase on previous years, with 2012 seeing just 330,000 of the products sold.

Canalys notes, however, that this “new generation” of smart watches is not expected merely to copy products already available:

Unlike earlier products, these smart watches will provide more sophisticated software and more elegant hardware. Glanceable information, integration across sensors and hooks into web services will be key features. These companion devices will not replace smart phones, but rather complement them as “appcessories.”

Chris Jones, Canalys’ vice president and Principal Analyst, claims that:

Smart watches will be the most important new product category in consumer electronics since the iPad defined the market for tablets. Software platforms tied to smart watches will also be a tremendous opportunity for developers to write apps in categories such as health and wellness or sports and fitness.

Software will be an issue, Canalys warns, as creating a successful developer platform for the next-generation smart watch will be a challenge. Whether Apple, Google, and Microsoft are able to do this of course remains to be seen.

For some of our recent news on Apple’s anticipated smart watch, see: Apple Hiring “Aggressively” For iWatch, Aiming For Late 2014 LaunchAre You One Of The Majority Who Doesn’t See The Point Of The iWatch?, and Apple Could Have Trouble Securing The “iWatch” Trademark In The U.S., U.K..