Apple Watch Owns Q2 Smart Watch Market But So What?
How many Watches did Apple (APPL) sell in its launch quarter? No outsider really knows and the vendor isn’t saying much, speaking only in wide generalizations like it beat its own internal expectations (whatever that means) and it outperformed the first iPhone and iPad (well, that’s something).
Still, that doesn’t tell us much does it? But the market researchers, who do such things, are taking their best shots at educated guesses of the Watch’s sales total for the quarter, even though at this point it really doesn’t matter, indicates not much, and may be a poor predictor of the wearables’ deployment value in the market.
Still, it’s their job and there’s no real arguing with that.
Two weeks ago, Slice Intelligence began the conversation, estimating that Apple Watch online sales totaled 3 million units at an average sale price of $505 through July 10, or three months after the vendor began taking pre-orders for the wearable device.
Slice’s data, originating from e-receipts of some 2.5 million shoppers, is a framed snapshot at best, confined to online sales in the U.S. and absent other potentially fertile ground in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom
Now, in the wake of Apple’s Q2 2015 earnings release last week, some researchers are adjusting their numbers on Apple Watch sales or issuing qualifiers. Others seemingly are regarding their Watch shipments as place holders for a new market.
Researcher Strategy Analytics last week pegged Apple’s Watch sales at some 4 million units in Q2, or 75 percent of total market worldwide shipments of 5.3 million devices, a 457 percent surge compared to the 1 million smart watches shipped a year earlier.
That Apple for now owns three-quarters of an evolving market isn’t all that noteworthy considering Samsung at this time last year had a similar share of the segment ahead of Apple’s Watch launch and, as Neil Mawston, Strategy Analytics executive director, suggested, it’s a brand new category so the share numbers are going to be fluid likely for some time to come.
“Apple Watch launched in 16 major countries and saw decent take-up from iPhone loyalists in the United States and elsewhere. Apple Watch has clearly raised the bar for the global smart watch industry,” he said. “The ball is now in the court of rivals, like Samsung, to respond.”
At this point, Strategy Analytics’ 4 million unit estimate of Apple’s Watch sales for the quarter may be a bit of an outlier among researchers. For example, investment banker BMO Capital Markets estimated Apple’s unit shipments of the device at about 2.3 million while Juniper placed the figure at between 2 million and 2.5 million units generating about $1 billion in revenue.
“This makes it the most successful smart watch launch to date, with no other launches coming close in a comparable time period,” wrote James Moar, Juniper research analyst, in a blog post. “It also means that Apple’s justification for obfuscating the figures, that of giving information to their competitors, is not relevant because there is no other smart watch in the market that can ship comparable sales volume.”
Obscured in the context of the Watch’s unit shipment totals is its position in the wider mobility market now and in the future. Apple’s wearable is a consumer product right now but in time the device likely will take a stronger position in the industrial mobile workplace as part of an overall enterprise mobility picture.
In that sense, Apple’s Watch sales right now mean, well, we’re just going to have to wait to see what they mean because at this embryonic stage, no one knows.