The Apple Watch is already wiping the floor with the entire smartwatch market


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China Daily/Reuters

"No, you're the best!"

The Apple Watch is on fire: KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts estimates Apple's debut smartwatch has sold more than 2.3 million units since pre-orders opened, MacRumors reports.


The device doesn't actually start shipping until April 24 (or even later), but Kuo believes that more than 2 million people globally have coughed up to get their hands on the device when it does drop.

Apple hasn't released any sales data on Apple Watch sales, and it likely won't until the company's quarterly earnings report. But this 2.3 million figure echoes what others have estimated - research company Slice believes there were around 1 million US pre-orders on launch day, for example.

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Ming-Chi Kuo has a good track record on Apple: He was spot on with his predictions about the iPhone 5S, for example.

If Kuo's figures are correct, Apple has - in a stroke - cornered the entire smartwatch market.


Google has lost the one thing it had going for it

The Apple Watch's strong sales are bad news for Google and its Android Wear smartwatch operating system OS. According to Canalys, devices using Android Wear sold 720,000 units throughout all of 2014. Slice's figures suggested that Apple was able to easily breeze past this figure in a single day. In doing so, Apple took away Google's one historic advantage, which Business Insider explained in a previous story:

The iPhone has always - with some truth - been considered the "rich man's phone." Apple customers tend to be better off than Android users and spend more on apps and in-app purchases. Accordingly, ad rates on iOS, Apple's operating system, are higher than on Google's OS.

This means that iOS is, at least on paper, the more lucrative platform to develop for. But many developers still choose to go "Android first." Why? Because what Android customers lack in purchasing power (on average), they make up for in sheer numbers. In 2014, Android manufacturers shipped a staggering 1 billion smartphones. That's a milestone that will take Apple years to reach - in the same period, despite having the most profitable quarter of any company ever, the Cupertino company had (relatively) paltry sales of 192.7 million.

This truly massive reach is what makes Android such a compelling platform for developers.

But now, the opposite is true - Apple has the bigger platform (by a massive margin), while Google is the underdog. But unlike Apple, Google doesn't have the wealthy userbase to encourage developers to prioritise developing for its OS. (We don't yet have demographics on Apple Watch customers, so we don't know for sure that they are (on average) wealthier. But given the high price point of the Apple Watch - topping out at $17,000/£13,500 - it is a fairly reasonable assumption to make.)


Apple has undercut every rival

Apple Watch


A customer examines the Apple Watch in an Apple Store.

Of course, there are other players in the wearables space. Google has never managed to achieve the same dominance in smart watches as it has in smartphones, and one significant player is the crowdfunded Pebble, which sold 1 million units in the period between its 2013 launch and the end of 2014.

Apple has easily bested this too, and is now one of the biggest players in the smartwatch space. According to Canalys, 4.6 "smart wearable bands" were sold in total throughout 2014, and many of these are fitness trackers that can't really be considered "smartwatches." But in any case, Apple has managed 50% of this in less than a week.

This strong lead is immediately going to make Apple's Watch OS an extremely attractive platform for developers looking to move into wearables, especially when coupled with the purchasing power of Apple consumers. And as this app ecosystem develops, it will make the Apple Watch even more attractive compared to other smartwatches, consolidating Apple's position further still.

Here's the relevant part of the research note from Ming-Chi Kuo at KGI Securities, courtesy of MacRumors (emphasis ours):

We estimate production of Apple Watch around 2.3mn units in March-May. Mass production of Apple Watch began in March and will likely reach 2.3mn by end of May. Considering that most consumers who preordered will not get the device until June, we estimate global preorders of over 2.3mn units, with Apple Watch Sport, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition representing a respective order allocation of 85%, 15% and less than 1%.

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