How many people are actually buying Apple Watches? Good luck figuring it out. …
Whatever the reason, Apple remains conspicuously vague about watch sales, citing competitive concerns. Traditionally, Apple releases initial sales figures for its major hardware devices on the launch day or immediately after the opening weekend. For brand new products, it varies: In 2007, Apple waited several weeks before announcing numbers for the first generation iPhone on an earnings call in 2007. In 2010, it waited just two days before releasing numbers for the original iPad.
I don’t see what the big mystery is. It’s simple psychology: Because of production issues, Apple’s moved probably half the units it was banking on getting out the door in the early going. Because backorders are showing a two (or more) month, pre-orders post day one are suffering, too. Apple expected more.
But beyond that, and perhaps more to the point, is the context of volume — its quality, not its quantity. Numbers don’t mean anything in a vacuum.
Apple didn’t wait so long to reveal initial iPhone figures because there weren’t huge sales numbers already floating around among their competitors that threatened to frame Apple’s achievement in anything but a massively positive, blockbuster light. With iPad, that was even more true, as no other brand moved tablets of any design at any kind of congruent clip. When the numbers clearly and overwhelmingly supported Apple as the market leader, they gladly let those facts be known.
With Apple Watch, one could argue that this is also the case, as the new wearable allegedly out-pre-ordered the entire lifetime sales of its competition (Pebble plus all Android Wear players) in its first day of online availability.
But Apple’s game-changers changed the game a long time ago, and Cupertino can’t base its success on trouncing obvious also-rans. Apple has over a billion iOS devices in the wild, and investors expect the brand to move at least 15 million iPhones each month. Compared to Apple’s other mobile products, Apple Watch is destined to start exceedingly slow re: public perception, even as it sells at a faster initial rate than anything Apple’s ever made before.
When Cook and company take the Fifth for competitive advantage, they’re not thinking about Samsung or Microsoft or LG or Pebble. They’re thinking about Wall Street. They’re thinking about mindshare.
Apple will eventually divulge the Apple Watch sales figures we’re all after. But by then, they’re going to be pretty obviously gangbusters anyways.