Strategy Analytics: Smart watch shipments overtake Swiss watches in Q4 2015

The popularity of smart watches is on the rise, with latest figures suggesting that more devices such as the Apple Watch are now being acquired than "ordinary" Swiss watches.

According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, global smart watch shipments reached 8.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015 -- up from 1.9 million in Q4 2014 -- compared with 7.9 million Swiss watch shipments. It is the first time ever that smart watches have out shipped Swiss watches on a global basis, the research company noted.

The Apple Watch continues to dominate the market, accounting for a 63 per cent share in the final quarter of 2015. Samsung was in second place with a 16 per cent share. Apple and Samsung together account for 8 in 10 of all smart watches shipped worldwide.

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, noted that the traditional Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smart watches.

"The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smart watches will go away. Swiss brands, like Tag Heuer, accounted for a tiny 1 per cent of all smart watches shipped globally during Q4 2015, and they are long way behind Apple, Samsung and other leaders in the high-growth smart watch category," Mawston said.

Smart watches are part of the wearable device category that also includes fitness trackers and many other types of devices. Gartner recently predicted that 74.6 million wearable electronic devices would be sold worldwide in 2016, an increase of 18.4 per cent from 232 million units in 2015.

Meanwhile the ability to connect such devices is also set to get easier. Vodafone noted in a recent blog that the embedded SIM (eSIM), which is based on a new industry-agreed specification, would enable users to securely connect many more types of devices to their mobile accounts including smart watches, fitness trackers and even glasses.

The UK-based operator said it will soon launch the Samsung Gear S2 classic 3G smart watch in Germany. The device will be one of the first in the market to include an eSIM.

The GSMA -- which has already launched the Embedded SIM Specification for machine-to-machine (M2M) applications -- released the specification this week that also allows consumers to remotely activate the SIM embedded in a device such as a smart watch, fitness band or tablet.

This new specification is the first output from the GSMA's Consumer Remote SIM Provisioning initiative and is designed to enable consumers to add a new generation of devices to a mobile subscription and connect them securely to a mobile network.

For more:
- see the Strategy Analytics release
- see the Vodafone blog
- see the GSMA announcement

Related articles:
Gartner: Wearables sales to rise 18.4% globally in 2016
Juniper Research: Fitness devices to dominate wearables market until 2018
Juniper Research: Apple dominated 2015 smart watch market
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GSMA nears agreement with Apple, Samsung et al on eSIM standard