Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

A Low Estimate of 9 Million Apple Watches Sold in 2015 Isn't the Whole Story

By Andrew Tonner - Jan 21, 2016 at 8:03AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The second-generation Watch could be the form factor's watershed moment.


Source: Apple.

How successful has the Apple (AAPL 0.88%) Watch been since its public debut late last April? With Apple being tight-lipped about shipments, no one really knows. However, that hasn't stopped a host of research firms from providing their best guesses ahead of Apple's earnings next week. According to one well-respected researcher, Apple Watch shipments continue to dominate the budding smartwatch market.

Another winner for Apple
According to tech research firm Juniper Research, the Apple Watch dominated the budding smartwatch landscape in 2015, accounting for the majority of market's shipments. Juniper estimates that the global smartwatch space grew shipment volumes to more than 17 million units last year, with the Apple Watch producing 8.8 million of those shipments.

Moreover, Juniper's estimates sit appreciably lower than other prominent research firms'. For example, leading research firm IDC estimated in December that total smartwatch shipments topped 21 million last year, and of those, Apple shipped an estimated 13 million Watches.

Even if Juniper's numbers prove more accurate than IDC's, the Apple Watch has enjoyed the strongest initial sales of any Apple device. Apple's massive installed base today makes quickly ramping up sales easier than it was for the iPhone or the iPad. And such performance speaks well for the device's long-term prospects, especially when signs point to marked improvements coming with this year's Apple Watch 2.

Source: Apple.

The best is yet to come
I've long maintained that the smartwatch's greatest potential lies in fitness tracking and health monitoring, an area the first Apple Watch performs nicely in, though it fails to usher in any truly breakthrough technology. However, a number of moves on the company's part suggest that, like the iPhone before it, the Apple Watch 2 could be what realizes the device's massive long-term potential.

One of the most prevalent rumors surrounding the second-generation Watch claims that Apple plans to introduce a series of interchangeable "smart bands" that will enable advanced biometrics functionality to monitor blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, users' respiratory rates, and body temperature. These are, of course, only rumors. However, a number of anecdotes suggest that Apple is indeed interested in advancing the Watch's health-tracking chops.

The first-generation Apple Watch includes what many believe to be a hidden diagnostics port behind the area where the bottom watch strap connects with the Watch's case. Though its ultimate use remains a matter of speculation, the hidden six-pin data port appears designed to transmit data and power between the watch casing and exterior straps. Given Apple's detailed approach to design, the inclusion of this data port points to its eventually playing a role in the device's long-term functionality.

What's more, Apple's continued hiring of medical technology talent also suggests that it plans to include improved health monitoring function in the Apple Watch 2, though comments from CEO Tim Cook also triggered rumors that Apple could have a separate medical-related device in development as well. At the same time, a recent look at Apple's job postings revealed several health-related positions explicitly focused on further developing the Watch's health-related services.

So while 8.8 million shipments for Apple would represent a notable achievement for the world's largest tech firm, I believe its next-generation smartwatch will be the device that finally unlocks the form factor's life-changing potential.

Andrew Tonner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Apple Inc. Stock Quote
Apple Inc.
AAPL
$174.55 (0.88%) $1.52

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
402%
 
S&P 500 Returns
129%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 08/17/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.