A day after a gloomy third-quarter sales report about the Apple Watch, CEO Tim Cook says the device is already having a record holiday as one of the season’s most popular gifts.
He shoppers bought a record number of Apple Watches during the first week of holiday shopping, and the wearable is on pace to have its best quarter ever to close out 2016.
“Sales growth is off the charts,” Cook told Reuters. “In fact, during the first week of holiday shopping, our sell-through of Apple Watch was greater than any week in the product’s history.”
Cooks emailed comments came just one day after research firm IDC reported third-quarter sales of the Apple Watch were down 70 percent from a year ago. Apple Watch is being outsold by cheaper, more fitness-specific health trackers made by Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin, according to the IDC report.
Cook did not give specific figures, but said Apple’s tracking of the watch’s sell-through — units sold to customers versus numbers of devices stocked on shelves — indicates it had its best-ever sales week.
“Our data shows that Apple Watch is doing great and looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year,” Cook told Reuters tech reporter Julia Love. “We’re on track for the best quarter ever for Apple Watch.”
This fall, Apple released Apple Watch Series 2, which features a less-buggy user interface and more functions not dependent on it being tethered to the iPhone, improvements from the first generation that may account for stronger sales in the final quarter of the year.
Apple also lowered the price of the Apple Watch (the Series 1 starts at $269), which makes its “a more natural gift” to buy than say an iPhone or computer, said Bob O’Donnell, an analyst with TECHnalysis Research.
While wearable computing is a growing market, analysts say consumers have been slow to see a need for smartwatches, which offer a number of apps for navigation, calendar and message management, fitness tracking and a variety of other functions.
Dedicated health trackers, with several models that cost less than $100, are enjoying double-digit sales growth in the market, according to IDC.
Fitbit shipped 5.3 million units in the third quarter to capture the greatest share of the market. Apple ranked fourth, with 1.1 million units shipped, behind second-place Xiaomi (3.8 million units) and third-place Garmin (1.3 million units).
Apple does not release sales numbers of Apple Watch, so IDC’s data is not “official.” Cupertino typically lumps the Apple Watch with Apple TV and iPod into an “other products” category.