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Apple Watch driving cellular smart watch shipments

12 Jul 2016

The popularity of smart watches with cellular connectivity is continuing to increase, with analyst firm Canalys forecasting 53.6 million units will be shipped by 2020.

That’s up from 7.5 million units forecast to ship this year, representing growth of 63% from 2016 to 2020.

According to Canalys, in the short term, shipments are likely to be driven by a new Apple Watch with cellular connectivity.

Samsung and LG have been very aggressive in bringing new cellular technologies to market, with smart watches such as the Gear S2 classic 3G/4G and the Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, and will also play significant roles.

Both the Tizen and Android Wear smart watch platforms already support cellular connectivity.

“The phase 2 eSIM specification will enable more independent smart watches with a smoother user experience around cellular connectivity,” says Daniel Matte, analyst at Canalys.

“Users will soon be able to easily choose among cellular providers and pay for monthly service,” he says. “Many more smart watches with LTE and GPS/GNSS will also be released this year, thanks to the availability of new LTE Category 1 chipsets.”

After a full year of availability, these new technologies will have the biggest impact on shipments in 2017, Matte says.

According to Canalys’ forecast, integration of additional health and fitness sensors, expanded activity tracking and battery life improvements will further drive smart watch growth over the next few years.

Though hardware and software constraints have limited growth until now, the app ecosystems around watchOS and Android Wear will accelerate over the medium term, the forecast says.

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