The Apple Watch has been off to a “slow start” — and might not really pick up steam until
That’s according to a new research note from Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster.
Over the last few weeks, speculation has mounted as to the commercial success (or lack thereof) of Apple’s debut smartwatch.
The Cupertino company hasn’t released sales figures for the device (and isn’t expected to in quarterly earnings on Tuesday), forcing analysts and observers to try and estimate shipments since its April launch.
Ming-Chi Kuo, a well respected Apple analyst for KGI Securities, thinks sales of the device have been “tepid,” estimating roughly 3.9 million sales to date. Research firm Slice Intelligence, meanwhile, thinks that orders have dropped by 90% since the first week of availability.
Munster acknowledges that “the Watch has been disappointing for some investors, but [is] in-line with out expectations for a slow start.” He claims 3 million sales for the quarter.
The analyst says he believes that sales will begin pick up for the device — but it won’t see major success for more than a year. In calendar year 2016, Piper Jaffray models sales of 14 million, before leaping to 40 million in 2017, “the breakout year for the Watch.” At that point, the device will account for an estimated 9% of company revenue.
Throughout this guessing game, Apple has stayed mum. Back in April, CEO Tim Cook said the response from consumers was “overwhelmingly positive.” In June, Senior VP of operations Jeff Williams told Re/code that the company had sold “a lot, but not enough,” before adding that it’s “never enough.” Williams said that “the only number I’ll give you is that demand divided by supply is greater than one, and so that’s all I’ve got for you … It’s a lot.”
“We release maybe too much data today, and we didn’t want to do that,” he explained. “The decision was, it’s a new category, we’ll see where it goes over time, and if it reaches the materiality levels, maybe we’ll change that; but that was the decision.”
Ahead of Tuesday’s earnings, Munster is also predicting revenues of around $US50 billion with 39.5% gross margin, an EPS of $US1.82, and iPhone shipments of 49-50 million.
Here’s the relevant part of the note — emphasis ours:
We believe the Watch has been disappointing for some investors, but in-line with our expectations for a slow start. For Jun-15, we expect 3 million units. We believe that the slow rollout of supply (not available for walk-in buys until June) could be a headwind to the Jun-15 Watch number. In speaking to investors, we have been surprised at the level of concern around the long-term opportunity for the Watch. We continue to believe the adoption of the Watch will take time and remain confident that the CY17 will be the breakout year for the Watch as we have units going from 14 million in CY16 to 40 million in CY17, accounting for around 9% of revenue in CY17. Our belief in the longer-term value in the Watch is driven by the eventual rollout of native apps starting later this year in V2 of the Watch software that will have greater and unique functionality compared to current apps that only mirror the iPhone.
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