Who’s gonna win the Apple Watch guesswork wars?

Apple isn't saying much, but that hasn't stopped a lot of speculation

Scant days since I warned not to expect firm Apple Watch sales numbers, Wall Street’s finest spreadsheet warriors have been forced to justify their expense accounts with guesswork.

Here they are:

  • Canalys: 4.2 million.
  • Strategy Analytics: 4 million.
  • Conlumino: 3.2 million units shipped.
  • Credit Suisse : 2.5 million.
  • Morgan Stanley: 2.2 million.
  • Deutsche Bank: 2.7 million.
  • Goldman Sachs: 2.45 million.
  • PiperJaffray: 2.5 million.

Who has the magic number? The inconvenient truth is we don’t know. Apple CEO Tim Cook says it “sold more Apple Watches in nine weeks than it sold iPhones and iPads when they first launched.” (Tease!).

So what does this tell us?


iPad sold over 3 million units in its first 80 days on sale

iPhone sold maybe 1.39 million iPhones in the first quarter and a bit after it first shipped.

I propose this means we ignore analysts claiming under 3 million sales.

You can’t blame them for using the age old tactic of thinking of a big number, cutting it, then grabbing a number lower than Apple just shared so they can act all surprised while taking the paycheck. If nothing else, the last decade of financial industry history tells us this is what banks do – they play chicken with facts and hope to get rich off the difference between them and their fiction. It’s gambling for the privileged. Here's a song about gambling by Blood, Sweat and Tears. It's good, but quite old.

Moving on

To be fair, anyone speculating at Apple Watch sales is working with a limited canvas;  not only do they have zero insight into Apple Store sales online (because Apple knows and they don't), they also have no clue concerning Apple retail sales (same reason), unless they have people camp outside the stores to ask people about their purchases, while avoiding hordes of eager Apple employees hoping to help them on their “customer journey” while enhancing their digital customer “experience."

This means I strongly suspect all the Apple Watch sales figures we’ve seen so far are based on the ancient and esoteric art of….Guesswork!!!!

Whatever the real deal, it’s Apple’s game, says Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics: “Apple Watch has clearly raised the bar for the global smartwatch industry. The ball is now in the court of rivals, like Samsung, to respond.” 

‘...Like Samsung…,' (really?)

Strategy Analytics reckons Sammy sold around 400k smartwatches in the period. They note: “Samsung is a long way behind Apple and it will need to launch multiple new smartwatch models and apps across dozens of countries if it wants to reduce Apple’s global smartwatch leadership in the coming months.”

Critics might observe Samsung will also need to invent a user interface that works, nurture developers and win back all those iPhone switchers it lost by failing to deliver on previous promises. All that while maintaining its attempt to define itself solely on its status as the 'anti-Apple' through its puerile ‘attack ads.' That joke's getting way too old, even for millennials....

All I really want to point out is that Apple Watch v.1 sales figures don’t matter. This is a platform evolution. Apple is deploying tons of resources to ensure rapid evolution here – why else do you think watchOS 2.0 is set to ship so soon after v.1? The current Watch will evolve rapidly – and those Wristly 97 percent customer satisfaction figures say lots more than fake sales data....

So who gets the award for having the biggest Apple Watch sales numbers?


And it doesn’t really matter.

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