How many watches did Apple sell last quarter?

The analysts’ mean estimate says one thing, the median says another.

On the second anniversary of the Apple Watch’s release, it’s still a fact that nobody outside Apple really knows how many units it sells each quarter. Tim Cook resolved early on—for competitive reasons, he says—to keep those sales numbers close to his chest.

That hasn’t stopped some of the braver analysts from making educated guesses.

I’ve heard from 11 so far this quarter—six Wall Street professionals and five independents. With estimates ranging from 1.6 million to 3.4 million, there isn’t what you would call a consensus. There is, however, a numerical average: about 2.6 million, 200,000 fewer than last year.

Plotting the average estimates, this is what the last eight quarters look like:


Not seeing the bar chart? Try the website. 

Below: The individual analysts’ estimates, pros in blue, indies in green. Note that despite what the the average says, more analysts expect unit sales to grow year over year than not.

Click to enlarge.

It’s likely that Apple won’t release a unit sales number when it reports its quarterly results on May 2—a week from today. But the size of its “Other revenue” category, where the company buries Watch sales, may tell us something about who was closest to the mark.

See also: How many iPhones did Apple sell last quarter?

6 Comments

  1. David Emery said:
    Does anyone have a formula for guesstimating the answer from Apple’s “other revenue” number when it’s released?

    0
    April 25, 2017
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      OIE includes both revenues (i.e. interest earned) and expenses (i.e. interest paid). It could be calculated using Apple’s 10Q statements, but the results would be highly subject to variable interest agreements and fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

      Results don’t often vary materially from Guidance. The effort to forecast this metric isn’t justified by the impact of accuracy.

      0
      April 25, 2017
  2. Robert Paul Leitao said:
    David:

    At this time there isn’t an easy way to accurately determine the number of watch units sold from the total in the Other Products revenue segment. The segment includes revenue from iPods, Beats-branded products, the Apple Watch line, Apple TV and other accessories.

    Under current accounting rules, Apple isn’t obligated to disclose the number of watch units sold because at this time the revenue generated is not considered material to results or the company’s performance.

    0
    April 26, 2017
  3. David Emery said:
    So at best we can get a proportional sense of the market, i.e. if the revenues are 2x last time, they sold 2x the number of watches?

    0
    April 26, 2017
    • Jonathan Mackenzie said:
      No. The introduction of Air Pods has complicated the picture greatly. This is an accessory that wasn’t available last year, so YoY comparisons of the “Other Products” category will not be very straight forward. If Air Pods are a hit, it will make it very hard to tell if watches are keeping pace. If the number is good, we’ll just have to conclude that “other products” are selling well 🙂

      0
      April 26, 2017

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