Neil Cybart: More than 1/3 of U.S. iPhone owners wear an Apple Watch

"This is a shockingly strong adoption rate that should serve as a wake-up call to Apple competitors."

From Cybart's "Apple Watch Is Now Worn on 100 Million Wrists" posted Thursday on Above Avalon.

It took five-and-a-half years for the Apple Watch installed base to surpass 100 million people. As shown in Exhibit 1, the installed base’s growth trajectory has not been constant or steady over the years. Instead, the number of people entering the Apple Watch installed base continues to accelerate. The 30 million new people that began wearing an Apple Watch in 2020 nearly exceeded the number of new Apple Watch wearers in 2015, 2016, and 2017 combined.

As of the end of 2020, approximately 10% of iPhone users were wearing an Apple Watch. This is a high percentage given the diverse technological wants and needs of those in the iPhone installed base.

Since the U.S. has been an Apple Watch stronghold for years, adoption in the country has trended materially high in comparison to global figures. At the end of 2020, approximately 35% of iPhone users in the U.S. were wearing an Apple Watch. This is a shockingly strong adoption rate that should serve as a wake-up call to Apple competitors interested in the wearables space. Apple Watch turned Fitbit from a household name as the wearables industry leader into a company that will eventually be viewed as an asterisk when the wearables story is retold to future generations.

My take: Cybart has become one of the best Apple device counters in the business, and unlike some sell-side analysts we know, he doesn't stop at counting iPhones.


  1. Tommo_UK said:
    Rod Hall’s take: Apple Watch has reached the top of the hour and the only way is down now.

    February 12, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      OT: Under yesterday’s “Pre-Market AAPL is Green” subject I posted extensively on how navigating seemed to be broken, and the malfunction prevented me from effecting timely trades.
      The same problem manifested itself again today. Schwab support kicked me up to a higher level where it was discovered that under Safari Preferences – Privacy – there is an option to block cross-site tracking.

      TURN IT OFF.

      This feature will intermittently prevent pages from fully loading. It is a Safari feature problem, not a Schwab issue. After turning it off I regained full access to my account.

      February 12, 2021
      • David Emery said:
        I’ve seen that with some sites that use Google CAPTCHA.

        (And I’ve been in a running battle with my own financial company about their website using Google CAPTCHA, which makes my financial data subject to “Google’s terms and conditions”.)

        February 12, 2021
  2. James Dean said:
    Rod takes a beating and keeps on ticking, incredible.

    February 12, 2021
  3. Fred Stein said:
    This success shows Tim Cook’s vision and courage. He went out on a limb.

    While others rushed in, Apple waited until they could deliver a truly smart watch, capable of becoming a platform. He planned for the future, i.e. waterproofing and the ability to make calls. Counting pre-2015 investments, this represents nearly a decade-long investment strategy. And this leverages the rest of the portfolio.

    Apple Car? similar approach but longer, much bigger.

    February 12, 2021
    • Steven Noyes said:
      I remember when most of the tech press called the Apple Watch Tim’s first blunder as CEO.

      February 12, 2021
  4. Jerry Doyle said:
    As the owner of the Original version released in the spring of 2015 and seemingly the only person at the time wearing one for the first year or so, I can attest that now I see an Apple Watch on many wrists. I’ve since owned the Series 4 and currently the Series 6.

    While I know many persons associate health and training with the Watch, I wish more emphasis was placed on all the other tasks one can do on the Watch. The Watch is the Gateway into the iOS ecosystem. It is a miniature iPhone, providing the user a quicker and more accessible use of the iOS ecosystem for payments, event passes, notifications, telephone and messaging, emails, maps & directions, calendar, appointments, reminders, etc.

    The exponential growth in Watch users is not surprising because it takes a period of recognition, education and observation of other Watch users to gain fully the inherent value of owning and wearing the Watch. I always say that if I forget my phone at home I keep going to my destination. If I forget my Watch at home I turn around and drive home to retrieve it. That is how critical the Watch is to me in my daily activities of work and living.

    February 12, 2021
    • Fred Stein said:
      With ya, bro.

      I have an App for my meatr cooking thermometer. On the iPhone but not on the watch, darn. Or ‘not yet’.

      Soon enough, having a Watch App will be de rigueur.

      February 12, 2021
  5. Greg Lippert said:
    Here’s my real world experience. My wife – who is not technical, but likes to work out – resisted the watch for years. Even made me return one I bought her as a gift.

    This year I bought myself a 6 and gave her my 4. Just try it.

    Within a week she couldn’t live without it, if she doesn’t close her rings, watch out!

    She uses it for fitness+ and it’s the first thing she puts on, last thing she takes off. Totally hooked.

    February 12, 2021
    • Jacob Feenstra said:
      Same thing here, Greg. My wife didn’t want me to buy her an Apple Watch to replace her lost Fitbit. After I finally gave her one for her birthday she couldn’t do without it. It’s actually the communications part of the watch that she likes most: messages that pop up, timers that go and phone calls that come through (while she has her hands full). If it should break she would want another one. She had the same reaction to Airbuds—didn’t want them… until she got a pair. That’s the sticky reality of Apple products.

      February 12, 2021
  6. Manfred Schwencke said:
    Count me in, for Europe though: iPhone 12 Pro Max (great!) and Apple Watch 6 (great!).
    Not talking about Airpods, Homepods, Macs …

    February 12, 2021
  7. Tommo_UK said:
    Toni: “2/3 of Apple iPhone owners reject Apple Watch.”

    February 12, 2021
    • Alan Birnbaum said:
      Rod H. : ‘Time out”

      February 12, 2021
  8. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    — quote —

    “My take: Cybart has become one of the best Apple device counters in the business…”

    — correction —

    Cybart IS one of the best Apple analyst/commenters in the business. Rock solid. If you want your finger on the true pulse of Apple, start with Cybart and Dediu (Horace)

    I think of the gravitas of the WATCH as being moreover just one component of the harmonious Apple trifecta — iPhone • WATCH • AirPods.

    A symphonic trio of life-utility and (I’ll take the liberty of saying it)…


    This is the real competition for which there is no equal.

    February 12, 2021

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