Apple sold more watches than Rolex, Swatch, and the rest of the Swiss watch industry combined
- A new estimate suggests that Apple sold more watches than the entire Swiss watch industry last quarter.
- Estimates suggest Apple sold about 8 million watches during the holiday quarter.
- The comparison shows the accelerating sales growth of Apple's smartwatch platform.
Apple is one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.
How big? Based on newly available statistics, it now seems certain that Apple outsold the entire Swiss watch industry combined last quarter.
Yep. The company best known for making iPhones outsold Rolex, Omega, and even Swatch last quarter - combined.
That's according to Apple Watch sales estimates from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and publicly released shipment statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Canalys estimates that Apple sold 8 million Apple Watches in the last quarter of 2017.
Apple's been making watches for four years. Switzerland has been making timepieces for centuries.
Not a flop
Instead, it bundles Apple Watch sales into an "other products" category - which led some people, including yours truly, to brand the device a "flop," as it seemed like Apple was glossing over lackluster sales.
And for awhile, especially in 2016, it did look like sales growth stalled. But based on data points provided by Apple officials on earnings call earlier this month, it's possible for analysts to calculate a strong estimate of units and revenue.
"It was our best quarter ever for the Apple Watch with over 50% growth in revenue and units for the fourth quarter in a row and strong double-digit growth in every geographic segment," Apple CEO Tim Cook said on February 1.
In some ways, the comparison with the entire Swiss watch industry is a testament to Apple's scale. Some Swiss watches are meant to be luxury pieces, like Rolex watches, which cost tens of thousands of dollars. But other Swiss watchmakers are mass market, like Swatch, with watches that are priced in the same range as the least expensive Apple Watch - about $180.
But other tech companies have similar scale, like Samsung and other Google partners - and their smartwatch sales aren't even close.
Not just the watch
In recent months, Cook has been speaking about Apple's "wearables" business, or Watch sales plus headphone sales from products like Beats and AirPods. "Wearables were the second largest contributor to revenue growth after iPhone, which is impressive for a business that started only three years ago," Cook said earlier this month.
Although that product category is small for now, its easy to imagine Apple expanding it with smart Apple Watch bands, and perhaps a pair of smartglasses. Google has a smart fabric project, and Apple patents suggest it's experimenting with those technologies too.
So now that Apple has conquered the old-school watch market, it's only a matter of time before people start comparing Apple's wearables business with companies like Nike.
For the first time, #Apple shipped more Apple Watches in 4Q2017, than the entire Swiss Watch Industry shipped watches! Apple is the biggest watch maker in the world #AppleWatch pic.twitter.com/G6M6TJ7uO2- Francisco Jeronimo (@fjeronimo) February 4, 2018
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