Analysts at IDC report that companies shipped a total of 104.6 million wearable units in the first quarter
of 2021. Not only was it the first-time shipments exceeded 100 million units, but the
first-quarter number is an impressive 34.4% increase year-on-year, compared to 2020. In 2021,
wearables represent one of the fastest growing segments in tech.
The two biggest names in wearables, Apple and Samsung, have a combined 40% share of the overall
market, but the IDC report shows a shift in growth. While Apple and Samsung remain at the top, the
market is now being fueled by smaller brands all over the globe who are committed to serve niche
markets and bring out devices with a more limited set of functions, such as a ring designed to
track vital signs while you’re sleeping, headsets, eyeglasses, shoes and shirts. Together, these
new types of wearables account for the largest share of growth in the past year.
As with any emerging market, wearables present a combination of opportunities and challenges.
While the promise of gaining an early foothold in a segment that could grow quickly is a good
incentive to start designing, working in an area that is still new and lacks an established
ecosystem can make it hard to turn an idea into a reality.
Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. started a new initiative meant to bring experts together to develop
ideas, further standards and expand the ecosystem, called the
Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program. NXP is a strong supporter of the initiative that involves more than 60 ecosystem players.
In addition to this NXP and Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. are expanding their collaboration to now
also integrate NXP’s eSIM solutions to wearable devices based on Qualcomm’s widely adopted
Snapdragon Wear platform. To lower the integration effort for developers, NXP’s SN110U comes
pre-integrated into the latest Snapdragon Wear 4100+ platform. Offering fast transaction speed in
an ultra-small format that consumes very little power, the SN110U is ideally suited for use in
Developers working on Snapdragon Wear 4100+ benefit from the unique monolithic solution featuring
an eSIM, next to NFC for transit, access control and contactless payments, and an embedded secure
element (eSE) to secure services and data – all embodied in the SN110U.
“The wearables industry is buzzing with rapid growth and unprecedented innovation in the
industry,” said Pankaj Kedia, senior director and global head, Smart Wearables Segment, Qualcomm
Technologies, Inc. “The Wearables Ecosystem Accelerator Program, which we announced earlier this
summer, provides a vehicle for leading players in the wearables space to invent, innovate and
invest in next generation products and accelerate the ecosystem. We welcome NXP to the program
and look forward to advancing eSIM based connected use cases with mobile payments in
collaboration with NXP.”
Benefits of these new cellular connectivity capabilities include:
Easier logistics – Eliminating SIM cards simplifies the supply chain for wearables, since
there’s one less item to manufacture, transport, warehouse and manage. It saves resources and
lowers overall cost.
More streamlined design – Wearables tend to be small, lightweight devices that have a small
footprint. An eSIM uses less space than a traditional SIM, so the design is easier to optimize
for tight spaces and battery operation, and the bill of materials is lower, too. Also, since
there’s no need for a SIM slot, the design can be sleeker and more resistant to water, dust and
other destructive elements.
Better user experiences – The eSIM can receive updated profiles at any time and can store
multiple profiles at once, so consumers can add backup profiles or travel internationally
without having to change the SIM cards in their wearables.
Faster scaling and easier customization – Wearables can scale more easily across geographic
regions that use different service providers, and late-stage customization becomes easier, since
the eSIM can accept profiles at any point its life cycle, before or after sale.
Dynamic security – Updates can be sent to the wearable over the air as needed, even after it’s
in the field. Developers can address new threats as they arise and revise algorithms to reflect
new approaches as they become available.
The combination of pre-integration and collaboration among the key ecosystem players promises to
unlock a new generation of wearable devices.
To learn more about the specific challenges and benefits of eSIM for the wearable market, check
out the eBook by the Trusted Connectivity Alliance
“eUICC for Connected Wearable Technology”.
Visit our Mobile landing page to learn more about NXP's intuitive and secure mobile solutions for your daily digital life.