The Apple Watch became available for preorder on Friday, and estimates for how many were ordered are already rolling in. One firm estimates that Apple sold about 1 million units of the smartwatch on Friday alone.
However, other firms are not convinced that the Apple Watch will sell very well, at least not in the early days. One thing’s for sure though. Apple went through the initial supply of its smartwatch early in the day on Friday, with all models selling out rather quickly, some even in a matter of minutes.
Apple Watch not essential
More than one analyst has pointed out that the Apple Watch is not an essential device. In a report dated April 10, UBS analysts Steven Milunovich and Peter Christiansen introduced their “Apple Watch Monitor” to go along with their iPhone Monitor.
They say the iPad is meant to be used for hours, while the iPhone is meant to be used for minutes. By comparison, they say the Apple Watch is meant to be used for only seconds. In the near term, they’re “moderately positive,” but in the long term, they’re “quite bullish” on the smartwatch.
For right now, they see the main benefit as being saving time. Eventually though, they think the Apple Watch could become important in terms of “interfacing to the Internet of Things.” They add that for now, the smartwatch is a “nice to have” but believe that it could eventually become a must-have.
Interest in the Apple Watch doesn’t look great
Raymond James analysts downgraded Apple last week because of the poor initial reviews of the Apple Watch. The UBS team chose to highlight the positive reviews of the taptic engine instead, which were mainly positive. The feature taps the wrist of the wearer, “creating a sixth sense connecting the digital and physical worlds,” they wrote.
They also say, however, that their Apple Watch Monitor suggests that interest in the Apple Watch is “decent but not great.” This is consistent with other reports we’ve heard from other sources. The monitor is meant to suggest quarterly demand for the smartwatch, but for right now, they are comparing interest in the Apple Watch to that of other Apple and consumer device product introductions. They add that the comparisons may not be entirely accurate though as some of the products were available immediately after introduction.
How the Apple Watch stacks up to other devices
According to the data they collected, the watch’s Search popularity is approximately a third that of the iPad and 50% that of the iPhone when they were announced. When looking at the three weeks going into the launch, they report that the percentages have been reversed. (All graphs in this report are courtesy UBS.)
Apple sold about 300,000 iPads in the U.S. on the first day they were available, 1 million in the first months, and 3.3 million in the first three months. That compares to the iPhone’s first U.S. weekend sales of 300,000.
The UBS team said before the smartwatch’s release, the Xbox One might be the closest comparison. Microsoft sold more than 10 million units of the gaming console in the first year of its release.
That would be extremely disappointing for the Apple Watch, as they expect Apple to sell 36 million units in the first year. They also say that it’s important not to underestimate the power of the Apple brand.
How much growth will the Apple Watch bring?
The analysts are estimating that the Apple Watch will account for about a third of their earnings per share growth estimate for the 2016 fiscal year. They’re assuming 16 million in the 2015 fiscal year, which includes the June and September quarters, and 40 million for the following fiscal year. However, they add that these numbers could be too high because of the first readings on their Apple Watch Monitor.
They’re projecting 15% growth in earnings per share in 2016, including 5% growth from the Apple Watch. They believe that even though this percentage is so small, it’s “meaningful” because of what’s expected to be a slower iPhone cycle starting later this year.
They continue to rate Apple as a Buy with a $150 per share price target. They say the performance of Apple stock depends heavily on the success of the Apple Watch and the iPhone 6S refresh cycle.