» Flopping into the lead

Strategy Analytics:

…global smartwatch shipments grew an impressive 457 percent annually to hit a record 5 million units in the second quarter of 2015. Apple Watch was the star performer, capturing a dominant 75 percent marketshare in first place.

While I have to note that their estimate of 4 million Apple Watches sold is just that, an estimate, it’s not very controversial. Ben Bajarin estimated Apple sold about 4.75 million units. Apple would only offer that it sold more than the iPhone and iPad in their respective first quarters, meaning more than 3.27 million.

Here are some things to consider about the state of Apple Watch demand for 2015, I think:

  • Early supply was heavily constrained, probably because of a bad supply of taptic engines, leading to a longer burn of pent-up demand throughout the second calendar quarter.
  • Tim Cook said on Tuesday that Apple sold more units in June than the previous months, despite those Slice numbers. That may or may not be due to finally being able to fulfill orders placed in April and May, though. His statement wasn’t clear on that point.
  • The Apple Watch requires an iPhone 5 or up. While that confines the size of the market, that market also grows every year as people still using older iPhones eventually upgrade and Apple’s vaunted switcher effect continues to bring in more customers.
  • Apple leads the pack, but the pack is still a pack made up of smartwatches. No one really knows how big this market is going to get and how long it’ll have steam. Let me repeat that for emphasis: No one really knows. So feel free to point and laugh at anyone estimating the next five years of smartwatch sales. Remember when Windows Phone was going to overtake Android? Good. Times. We laughed ourselves until we died and then we were reborn, shiny and chrome.
  • watchOS 2.0 will probably be a pretty big shot in the arm and coming this fall could allow the Watch to maintain momentum throughout the year.

It doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect that Watch sales will drop in the third calendar quarter and pop back up in the holiday quarter, like pretty much everything else. That Apple is clobbering the island of misfit toys that is the competition in the smartwatch market shouldn’t be surprising. By that measure, the Watch is quite successful. Which is why people are using manufactured yardsticks of their own devising to say that it isn’t.