Apple Watch Sales Forecasts: Some Want, Does Anyone Need?

Apple Watch preorders start April 10 -- two weeks before shipments for the smartwatch start on April 24. But how many Watches will Apple actually sell? Forecasts from mobile tech pundits are all over the map. The key issue: iPhone created a "need." In stark contrast, Apple Watch may not even be a "want."

Wall Street expects Apple to sell 14 million Watches in 2015, but a Piper Jaffray analyst predicts the 2015 figure will be closer to 8 million units -- before building to 40 million to 50 million units by 2017 -- or 10 percent of Apple's revenues at that time, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Still, those figures require some context. Roughly 2 million smartwatches were sold in 2013, according to Strategy Analytics, with sales surging to 4.6 million units in 2014. Translation: The smartwatch market doubled in 2014 -- and Apple wasn't even present to drive things forward.

Fast forward to 2015, and a whopping 28.1 million smartwatches will be sold this year, the same market researcher says.  Moreover, Apple Watch will grab 55 percent market share in 2015, selling 15 million units, Strategy Analytics predicts.

Wants vs. Needs

I'm intrigued but skeptical. Alas, Apple Watch is not the second coming of iPhone. When Apple launched the smartphone revolution in 2007, it was becoming clear that every person in the world would eventually need to carry a cell phone of some sort. Add multi-touch, an app store and mobile Internet access to that equation, and iPhone became the perfect combination of wants and needs for millions of folks.

I simply don't see the same scenario unfolding for Apple Watch.

  • Not everyone wants a traditional watch.
  • Even fewer folks need a traditional watch.
  • And not every existing watch owner has an iPhone (required for the Apple Watch experience) or wants digital messages popping up on their wrists. 

Tell me again, Apple: What need does Apple Watch actually solve?

Watching Closely

Yes, I'll be among the geeks poking around Apple Stores in the weeks ahead to glimpse the Watch. And I'll be watching closely to see what apps arrive. But will I actually buy an Apple Watch. For 2015, at least, the answer is likely no. I already know what time it is, thanks to iPhone. And I already have thousands of mobile apps from which to choose -- thanks again to iPhone.

Apple Watch could extend many of those capabilities down my arm to my wrist. But generally speaking, I want to have fewer digital devices -- not more -- when I'm on the go. That's why I've largely abandoned my iPad... and that's why I'll sit on the Apple Watch sidelines... at least until a true killer app emerges for the smartwatch.

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