Shipments of the Apple Watch are expected to rise 33% in 2018 to hit 20 million units

According to sources inside Apple's upstream supply chain, the tech titan will ship 4.5 million units of the Apple Watch during the fourth calendar quarter of this year. At that pace, Apple will have delivered a total of 15 million units for all of 2017. The supply chain expects Apple to ship a total of 20 million smartwatches next year for a gain of 33% year-over-year. The OG Apple Watch shipped less than 5 million units after its launch in April 2015, but the second series has done well since its launch last September.

The third series Apple Watch, which is rumored to be a stand alone model with an eSIM card and an LTE radio built in, could be introduced next month at the same time as the 2017 Apple iPhone models. According to reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities, the new version of Apple's wearable device won't be able to make or take stand alone phone calls immediately following its launch. Kuo says that Apple will have to improve the "user experience of data transmission" on the timepiece before it handles calls on its own. That won't take place until sometime next year, Kuo predicts.

Apple is apparently the only smartwatch manufacturer with a positive outlook for the remainder of this year and for 2018. Sales of smartwatches from companies like Samsung, LG, Motorola and Huawei are weak; sales for smartbands made by Fitbit and Xiaomi are also declining. Meanwhile, Asus has decided to exit the market after producing a trio of ZenWatch models. The supply chain sources cite several reasons for declining sales of smartwatches including poor battery life, high prices, and the sharing of similar capabilities with smartphones.

The stand alone features on the Apple Watch Series 3, when enabled, should help Apple ship more timepieces. A deal that Apple and insurance company Aetna are reportedly discussing to sell subsidized Apple Watch units to Aetna policy holders, could also lead to a bump in sales if both sides sign on the dotted line. Quanta Computer, which exclusively manufactured the Apple Watch up until now, is expected to share 20% to 30% of Series 3 production with Compal Electronics.

source: Digitimes

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