Apple Doesn’t Want You to Know How Many Watches It Sold
“We had an amazing quarter, with iPhone revenue up 59 percent over last year, strong sales of Mac, all-time record revenue from services, driven by the App Store, and a great start for Apple Watch,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. But how great a start Apple wasn’t saying.
Here’s what we do know for sure: Apple reported $2.6 billion in revenue for its “other products” during the third fiscal quarter, up from $1.7 billion one quarter ago. Apple doesn’t break out the number of units shipped in this category, so there’s not a simple way to determine exactly how many watches Apple has sold by comparing to past results. Yes, the nearly $1 billion bump in “other products” does stop a downward slide. It seems reasonable to infer that the Watch seems to have added to Apple’s bottom line. But by how much, and thanks to how many watches, are both difficult to say.
The performance of the Apple Watch is of particular interest not just because of the marketing hype, but because it’s Apple’s first foray into a major new product category under CEO Tim Cook. The wild success of newer iPhone models has taken pressure off Cook to show Apple still has its mojo in the post-Steve Jobs era. But staking a first-mover claim to a new category the way Apple under Jobs did with the iPhone and iPad is still a bullet point missing from Cook’s résumé.
That’s Saying Something
And in the past, after Apple has released major new products, it has said, well, something. When the iPhone launched in the third quarter of 2007, Apple revealed specific numbers: 270,000 iPhones sold in the first two days after it was released at the end of the quarter. The “iPhone is off to a great start—we hope to sell our one-millionth iPhone by the end of its first full quarter of sales,” Jobs said in a statement at the time—a mark it did hit after 74 days.
In the third quarter of 2010, after the iPad first went on sale, Jobs specifically broke out the number of tablets the company moved. “It was a phenomenal quarter that exceeded our expectations all around,” Jobs said. “iPad is off to a terrific start.” The company announced it had sold nearly 3.3 million iPads that quarter—300,000 units globally the first day and 1 million sales in 28 days.
All of which makes Apple’s silence around the Apple Watch fairly deafening. (We’re waiting to see what Tim Cook might say about the Watch during his call with analysts in a few minutes.) Anything short of hard numbers leaves us with just anecdotal evidence. If Apple isn’t willing to save us from the anecdotal, maybe that’s the most revealing anecdote of all.