Smartwatch shipments overtake Swiss as Samsung launches eSIM Gear S2

Analyst firm Strategy Analytics has announced shipments of smartwatches have overtaken those of traditional Swiss watches for the first time.

The Swiss watch industry has been in decline for some time, thanks mainly to falling demand in China. At the same time Apple launched its watch a year ago and started shipping millions straight away, some of which must have come at the expense of traditional luxury watches.

“We estimate global smartwatch shipments reached 8.1 million units in Q4 2015, rising a healthy 316 percent from 1.9 million in Q4 2014,” said Cliff Raskind of SA. Smartwatches are growing rapidly in North America, Western Europe and Asia. Apple Watch captured an impressive 63 percent share of the global smartwatch market in Q4 2015, followed by Samsung with 16 percent.”

“We estimate global Swiss watch shipments reached 7.9 million units in Q4 2015, falling 5 percent from 8.3 million in Q4 2014,” said SA’s Steven Waltzer. “Global demand for Swiss watches is slowing down, and major players like Swatch are struggling to find growth.”

“The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches,” said SA’s Neil Mawston. “The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away.”

A further blow to the Swiss watch industry will be the news that Samsung has launched a version of its Galaxy Gear smartwatch that is the first to feature an eSIM that supports the GSMA’s newly-launched Consumer Remote SIM Provisioning specification.

“This is the only interoperable and global specification that has the backing of the mobile industry and lets consumers with a mobile subscription remotely connect their devices to a mobile network,” said Alex Sinclair, GSMA CTO. “This new specification gives consumers the freedom to remotely connect devices, such as wearables, to a mobile network of their choice and continues to evolve the process of connecting new and innovative devices.”

“At Samsung, we aim to meet and anticipate consumers’ needs and the development of the first GSMA-compliant eSIM is further example of our pursuit of meaningful innovation,” said Yunsang Park, SVP of R&D at Samsung Mobile. “We are excited to introduce Samsung Gear S2 3G classic as not only a starting point for more devices to be connected globally, but as a step forward in our commitment to support the development of the IoT market.”

The eSIM specification has pretty broad cross-industry backing including most major mobile operators as well as Gemalto, Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Nokia. Vodafone head of devices Patrick Chomet was even moved to blog on the matter, which you can read here.

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