Analyst roulette picks 15.4 million Apple Watch sales for 2015

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And the roulette wheel of Apple Watch predictions lands on... zero? Photo: John Wardell/Flickr CC
And the roulette wheel of Apple Watch predictions lands on... zero? Photo: John Wardell/Flickr CC

Even in the wake of an uber-popular device like the iPhone 6, which sold upward of 10 million units in its first weekend alone, it’s fascinating to see analysts hedging their bets when it comes to the Apple Watch. The spread of predictions from these professional prognosticators might as well have been generated at random.

The latest group to weigh in is Strategy Analytics, which is predicting that the Apple Watch will sell (or at least ship) 15.4 million units worldwide in 2015, which would still make Cupertino the world’s No. 1 smartwatch vendor, but with a much smaller market share than others are predicting.

“The Apple Watch is the catalyst to ignite the global smartwatch market. Apple’s famous brand, loyal fan base, deep retail presence and extensive apps ecosystem will ensure healthy uptake for its Watch. However, Apple’s first-generation Watch is not yet perfect,” writes Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics. “For example, Apple’s Watch hardware design is arguably less attractive than some rival models such as the Huawei Watch, battery life may not be as long as many traditional wristwatch owners are used to, and Apple’s premium pricing may be challenging for mass-market consumers.”

If the 15.4 million unit figure is accurate, that means Apple will capture 55 percent of the global smartwatch market share in its first year. Strategy Analytics claim global smartwatch shipments will hit 28.1 million units in 2015 — which is up from the 4.6 million units shipped in 2014.

But Mawston warns that Apple will need to “upgrade tangibly its second-generation Watch to stay ahead of competitors.”

Other predictions for Apple Watch shipments have ranged from the conservative (with Gene Munster suggesting first-year sales will come in at around the 10 million unit mark) to the middling (UBS’s Steven Milunovich guessing 24 million Apple Watches in year one) to the over-compensatingly optimistic (42 million from Trip Chowdhry of Global Equities Research — who previously said Apple would “disappear” if it didn’t announce a wearable device by last May).

As screenwriter William Goldman once wrote, “Nobody knows anything.” As for my own prediction? I’m going to randomly guess scientifically forecast 22.353 million units will sell in the first year. Although 43 of those will be returned within the first week.

If you’re interested in a comparison, the iPad sold 19.5 million units in its first year, while the iPhone moved a relatively paltry 5.4 million units.