That Apple Watch 'sales slump' explained

E-receipt stats show that Apple had a big first week - and it's a smartwatch success
That Apple Watch sales slump explained

The Apple Watch isn't dead, people are buying it and there's no reason to panic.

The internet has gone crazy over new wearable tech sales stats and graphs from Slice Intelligence this week, notably one which seems to show Apple Watch sales 'tanking' after its first week. With Apple declining to release its own figures, estimates like this are taken very seriously. Let's examine.

We know Apple had a big first week

A reported 1 million pre-orders on day one in the US alone and 2.3 million in the first seven days. No-one expected this rate to continue all year and even the highest pre-launch forecasts didn't predict 120 million sales (or 2.3 million multiplied by 52 weeks) in the first year. The most optimistic analyst figures Wareable had been running around the launch were 15 to 20 million in the first year.

Read this: Wareable's Apple Watch review

Past experience of Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad, shows that there are people who rush out and buy on launch day and that clearly happened here. Those early adopters really were early. But in 2015 a smartwatch remains a luxury and we suspect Christmas will see another spike in sales.

The Apple Watch seems to be the best-selling smartwatch

Graph: Slice Intelligence

If you took that first phenomenal - for wearable tech - week out of the graph, what it would actually show is that compared to any other smartwatch Apple has been killing it. In fact, Fitbit seems to be its only real competition.

Look at the lines for Samsung sales, Jawbone sales, Garmin sales, Misfit, Xiaomi - all way, way down below the erratic Fitbit sales and the decreasing Apple Watch sales. These are all big companies within the wearable tech space with 11.4 million sales in the first quarter of 2015 between them, a 200% year on year increase.

Now in July, what matters is where that Apple Watch plunge in sales stops. Will it stay higher than any other smartwatch? Or will it fizzle out into Samsung Gear levels of insignificance? It's too soon to call that. Slice's daily sales estimates - US only - show a dip in June to less than 20,000 sales a day giving it a maximum of 600,000 for the month. That pales in comparison to iPhones but it's on a par with the number of wearables Samsung sold in a whole quarter.

Fitbit is doing well but it's a different device

Chart: International Data Corporation

Slice itself ran with a header of 'Apple Watch did not take a bite out of Fitbit sales.' It points to its e-receipt data showing that in May 2015 777,000 Apple Watch devices were sold versus 850,000 Fitbits. Less than 1 million a month doesn't sound good news for Apple but this data is US only so doesn't include markets such as China.

And what this data actually means is that Apple is already competing with wearable tech's most successful company with one, high-end product.

Read this: Fitbit Charge HR review

A Fitbit tracker costs on average around half to a third of the price of an entry level Apple Watch Sport. The two companies are competitors in a sense - two of the most well known wearable brands - but Apple and Fitbit also produce different devices. One is a design smartwatch and one is a range of fitness trackers. Then there's the fact that Apple's portfolio includes an $10,000 device - even tens or hundreds of these sold globally will help Apple's bottom line.

We know from IDC's shipment data that Fitbit shipped the most wearables in Q1 of 2015 - that's before the Apple Watch launch. It shipped 3.9 million devices internationally and is likely to increase that number in Q2, in part thanks to Jawbone dropping the ball on the UP3.

Apple doesn't need Fitbit to do badly in order to hit an impressive first year of 15 to 20 million sales internationally. There's no doubt the US will be the biggest market for the Watch but let's be honest - for all we know, Tim Cook could be right on track internationally.

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