I Wouldn’t Count Those Apple Watch Sales Just Yet

apple watchThere's a story going around today that Apple sold over a million Apples Watch when the wearable went up for pre-order on Friday, but I don't know whether we should take it seriously.

According to PCWorld:

According to e-retail research firm Slice Intelligence, 957,000 people in the U.S. bought an Apple Watch on Friday—and many of those people bought two. The space gray Apple Watch Sport with a black Sport band was the bestselling Watch, which reflects anecdotal data we’ve heard from readers and colleagues.

But buyers weren’t just snagging Apple Watches for themselves: On average, people bought 1.3 Watches to the tune of about $503.83 per Watch, which means a lot of people were buying a couple (as gifts or to sell on eBay, perhaps).

A million plus units ordered in a single day might not be as high as some of the wilder projections, but it is a decent figure. In comparison, the total global wearable market for 2014 was estimated to be about 4.6 million, including both smartwatches and wearables.

If these estimates are correct then Apple trounced the wearables market in a single day. If these figures are correct then Apple Watch pre-orders have already exceeded estimates for the number of Android Wear devices sold last year.

But I'm not so sure that happened. I can't tell you why, specifically, but the estimate feels off.

I have a bunch of problems with the figures from Slice, the first of which is that far too many sites are reporting it as fact. (Some sites are also confusing the number of customers with units sold, but that's another matter).

This is at best an estimate from a market analyst. I've used this kind of data in the past when it is the only data available, but I tend to avoid such estimates when I know that real data will be coming shortly. In the case of Apple, we know they will be announcing Apple Watch sales figures at their next quarterly briefing and or at the keynote address at WWDC.

I say wait and see what Apple says, and when Tim Cook does speak I'm betting that he won't boast of a million pre-orders on Friday. I think Apple would have made that claim by now had it been true.

Apple has a history of shooting its best news from the rooftop. Remember, last fall Apple started pre-orders for the iPhone 6 on Friday and announced the first day sales on the following Monday. Given that there is no similar boast this Monday afternoon, I would bet that Apple sold under a million smartwatches on Friday.

I could be wrong, Apple could have decided to remain silent on this one occasion, but if I were a betting man I would put my money on under a million sold, not over.

Would anyone care to take that bet?

About Nate Hoffelder (11476 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

12 Comments on I Wouldn’t Count Those Apple Watch Sales Just Yet

  1. Phil in Magnolia // 13 April, 2015 at 4:59 pm // Reply

    Regardless of the actual number sold (or rather, ordered) it’s clear that they sold out everything that they were able to produce for early delivery (and in fact they sold out all models within 6 hours of when they began to accept orders). The delivery dates now being quoted are in June for most models, and into July and August for other models.

    • Yes, and the much-delayed ship dates raise all sorts of questions. A two-month delay suggests that supply can’t keep up with demand. And if the entire supply for the first 3 months is under a million units then Apple has serious problems in their factory.

      • Phil in Magnolia // 14 April, 2015 at 3:47 am // Reply

        Well, I doubt it. My view is that they are entering a new market with this watch, and breaking new ground with the technologies and materials used. They don’t need to have larger quantities on hand at launch than what they can reasonably produce while maintaining the quality they need. And they don’t know what to expect regarding demand when they first introduce a product that they’ve not sold before. So suggesting ‘serious problems in their factory’ is jumping to conclusions, don’t you think?

        People have very high expectations for Apple these days. They are better served by producing high quality products and living with supply constraints during the introductory period and while they determine demand and marketplace acceptance.

        I’m not planning to purchase an Apple watch anytime soon, but I will not be surprised if these become very commonplace over the next couple of years, as people learn what the watch can do and how it works, and Apple further refines it and app developers bring out applications that make use of its capabilities.

        • They don’t need to have larger quantities on hand at launch than what they can reasonably produce while maintaining the quality they need.

          I’ll grant you that my use of “serious problems at the factory” was a lazy description, but I still have questions about the supply issue.

          It is well within Apple’s abilities to produce an excess supply before the launch and ship dates. But they did not do so with the Apple Watch, and I think you explained it:

          what they can reasonably produce while maintaining the quality they need.

          Apple can produce and ship 4 million iPhone 6s in a month or so, but they can only produce 1 million Apples Watch over the course of 3 months?

          We can argue about why the production is limited, but there is some type of issue there.

          • Phil in Magnolia // 14 April, 2015 at 2:15 pm //

            You do a nice job with this website and in providing information on e-reader news and related issues but I think perhaps you are venturing outside of your area of expertise quite a bit when you start expressing opinions regarding manufacturing capabilities and the business decisions of Apple in introducing a major new product.

            If you want to persist in thinking that ‘there is some type of issue here’, as if this is not Apple intentionally bringing the product to market in a more gradual way than what you might think they should be doing, fine. But this is nothing more than speculation on your part, because you chose to question why they don’t immediately ship as many Apple watches right out of the gate, again a totally new product and with technologies you may not appreciate, as they can ship iPhones which are considerably more mature products and ones they have had in their product lineup for over 7 years now (the first iPhone was introduced in 2007). They could supply more iPhone 6s units initially because 1) it was a derivative from their earlier models, and 2) they knew the market and could predict more accurately what demand would exist, and so they ramped up production accordingly.

            As I said in my earlier post, what Apple is doing here is something quite new. You make the point yourself in one of your other comment responses that this watch is “the (or one of the) most advanced smartwatches available”. If you look at it objectively, the only ‘issue’ here is that they are pushing the envelope once again, and testing the market to determine what demand will develop before committing to huge supplies of something they have never built or shipped before.

  2. So hard not to go on a rant about the 100 reasons why it’s a terrible product and how Apple is charging 350$ for something that costs 50$ to make. Guess i’ll point out 1 thing that ppl miss, it likely doesn’t have gloved touch and the moronic crown makes it even more of a nightmare in the winter.
    Anyway, Apple will report the watch in the same segment as accessories, peripherals and ipods to hide the sales. They got 2 major reasons to do so, hide poor units sales and hide ASP (and margins ). So they might not report units at all.
    You also make a major mistake ,the thing is not actually for sale yet, just pre-orders and when Apple reports numbers, they do so after the first weekend of actual sales.
    W/e , should be fun watching Tim Cook trying even harder to make Apple the Paris Hilton of tech.

    • Last fall Apple put the iPhone 6 up for pre-orders on 12 September, and announced on Monday the 15th that they had sold 4 million.

    • “100 reasons why it’s a terrible product and how Apple is charging 350$ for something that costs 50$ to make.”

      OK, while I didn’t pre-order and have no interest in the Apple Watch for myself, I dispute BOTH of those claims as hyperbolic *at best*. ‘Terrible Product’? It is the (or one of the) most advanced smartwatches available.

      Is it a ‘1.0’ product? Very, very clearly – it reeks of so many recent products from pretty much everyone, from Windows Phone to the original Galaxy Note to MS Surface RT to 1st gen MacBook Air and so on. As such I could see describing the purchase of one as a ‘terrible decision’, but hey … to each their own.

      As for the cost, I don’t see it as so terribly out of whack with the competition – Android smartwatches have been selling for $299 at the higher end … so clearly this is a premium price, but only similar to comparing the iPad Mini to the Kindle Fire HDx or whatever.

      Personally I recently got a Garmin VivoActive, which is a smartwatch but fitness-based, so I get fitness tracker, smartwatch notifications from my phone, apps, and a whole array of workout profiles including a full running GPS … and I have gotten more than 5 days battery including GPS runs >1 hour each day! But it cost $249 … and I think it wasn’t unreasonable in that product space.

      And Nate … I also think they came up short of 1 million – and they likely felt announcing ‘nearly a million’ would sound bad.

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