Gene Munster predicts 3 million Apple Watch sales, thinks 2017 will be the device’s ‘breakout’ year



With earnings coming tomorrow, analysts are focusing on Apple Watch reception as it will be the first time Watch sales are included in Apple’s financial results. Apple won’t be reporting Apple Watch sales numbers but that doesn’t stop investors from guessing the figure. In a note, Gene Munster says that Apple has sold 3 million units in the quarter. This is slightly below KGI’s estimate which quoted 3.9 million Apple Watch device sales.

Munster says talks with investors have shown general disappointment and concern about the ‘long-term opportunity’ for the Apple Watch. In the short term, he believes supply constraints and lack of availability in Apple retail stores have limited early sales. Munster, however, remains confident that the Watch will ramp up in sales slowly with a ‘breakout year’ in 2017.

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For 2016, Munster expects about 14 million Apple Watch unit sales. But, for 2017, Munster estimates this number will jump significantly to 40 million units.

Apple reports its financial results for the last three months tomorrow but new accounting practices means that Apple Watch data will not be directly reported. Consensus estimates for iPhone sales sit around 50 million units.

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  1. taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

    There is no way in hell that Apple will sell 40 million Apple Watches in 2017.

    • Rosario Maiolino - 8 years ago

      I have my 42 mm yellow gold with blue watch band which is beautiful and durable.The watch has a “stickyness” to your wrist once worn for a few weeks…endearing and elegant the watch becomes part of your Apple device existence, once you become part of it you will not leave home without it.My wife whom is not a watch person purchased the stainless42 mm with black band and it has stuck to her wrist since.

  2. 89p13 - 8 years ago

    “. . . he believes supply constraints and lack of availability in Apple retail stores have limited early sales.”

    I totally agree – there was no “WOW” factor of “I can buy it and have it now” and that compelled too many people to pre-order and then have buyer’s remorse for having to wait so long.

    I’d love to know how many pre-orders got canceled between ordering and delivery. I’d bet it’s in the double digits and that hurt the Apple Watch sales. And the long time Apple users know to wait for Version 2.

    • Tony - 8 years ago

      I pre-ordered, waited, have it, love it.

    • 89p13 - 8 years ago

      I pre-ordered after seeing the Black with Link bracelet – but when ship time came to Mid-July, well I rethought it and decided to wait until a later rev.

      I can’t say I regret it nor do I say that early adopters should have waited: I know IF I could have had it in hand at the Apple store when it was released, I would have!


  3. i agree… Apple’s best products are always their 3rd gen… iPhone 4, iPad retina and next should be Watch 2017

    • Robin Keanu Keim - 8 years ago

      I wouldn’t really say they were the best but of course they were better than the 1st gen because Apple improved them and added new features… like with every new generation of Product.

      Oh and btw iPhone 4 was the 4th gen iPhone.

    • David Henriksen - 8 years ago

      iPhone 4 is the 4th gen :P

  4. Steven Moore (@Stniuk) - 8 years ago

    This could pick up sales of the Christmas. Parents looking for a gift for their iPhone owning off spring.

  5. minieggseater - 8 years ago

    The more I think about it they are probably not too worried and Watch V1 is just something to get a real test device in the hands of developers. Once ApplePay and third party native apps gain traction and V2 is a bit slimmer and other hardware tweaks and the supply chain has had some learning/bedding in time it will start to realise it’s fuller potential (whatever that is!) Looking at the Watch forums on they are not exactly flooded with posts given these things are supposed to be selling really well or maybe it’s just the perfect product ……

    • mepphoto - 8 years ago

      I think the watches big year will be version 2 next year, the buzz created every time I pay with mine in the UK is huge, combine that with being able to deal of a list of great things you can do with the watch and I’d expect a second wave now, followed by a 3rd when native apps are available and by early 2016 developers will have got to grips with the use case and it will be even more compelling, it’s a shame we won’t get watch numbers tomorrow.

  6. taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

    I’m still holding off until they make a true health device. Maybe by then Apple will figure out what the main selling point of the device(s).

    How can multiple color doodles be a tent pole feature? I would really like to read a behind the scenes story of Apple Watch development. Even 10 months after its reveal Apple still seems clueless how to promote it and what should be its main function(s).

    • Ľuboš Strapko - 8 years ago

      They already know the main selling point, but they don’t spread it right now, because actual version of the watch is not good at it. It should set you free from your phone… so in meanwhile it is a notification accessory with some sensors.

    • macnificentseven48 - 8 years ago

      I’m waiting for it to become a fully featured health device before I buy one and eventually they’ll have lower power draw using 10nm tech to get more life from the battery. I love gadgets but I’m in no hurry to purchase an AppleWatch until they start using all the sensors they had originally said they would. I honestly don’t want an AppleWatch for anything except accurate health use.

      • rogifan - 8 years ago

        What sensors did Apple originally say they would be using that they’re not currently using in Watch?

      • taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

        I fully agree

  7. Steve (@SteveWDC) - 8 years ago

    “Slightly below” KGI’s estimate? It’s actually 23% lower (.9 ÷ 3.9 * 100). I would argue that a 23% delta is hugely lower…

  8. Paul Van Obberghen - 8 years ago

    “This is slightly below KGI’s estimate which quoted 3.9 million”. “Slightly”? 3.9 is 30% more than 3 and 3 is about a quarter less than 3.9. Whichever way you look at it, this isn’t “slightly” less.

  9. These analysts are real visionaries, in the middle age they would burn. One can’t predict future and every day there another so called experts telling new numbers! How can they know?
    As for the Apple Watch: I want one too, but will wait until it’s real waterproof and has more features and longer battery time.
    I don’t need a camera on the watch.
    And why should Apple always sell millions of a product? If the sell 40 million iphone the analyst say “It isn’t enough!” if they sell 60 million iPhone again the same response and now Apple is supposed to sell 90 million iPhones again the analysts aren’t happy.

    The Apple watch sold more than all other wearable devices, but again for analysts it isn’t enough.

    If these glass ball predictors believe they are right, why don’t they lead companies? OK Apple would be bankrupt after 6 months, if the would!

    IMHO analyst should be banished from this world, because most time they tell b*llsh*t!

  10. The Apple Watch, it turns out: is an expensive enhancement to the Iphone. The “why” factor is weak because watches to many non-geek consumers is an old world craft accessory that is more like a miniature car for the wrist. On its own (other than an enhancement..), the Apple Watch has a pay system (not yet useable in Asia) and collects health data (like the much less costly Fit Bit). Apple’s blatant arrogance about their place in our lives, doesn’t get that. I think the investor crowd now reporting on this product (in retrospect to the very polite geeks and tech reviewers who would not dare cross Apple Inc. who were the first responders to reviewing the watch) has no choice but to report optimistic banter at this point.
    My prediction is, the Apple Watch will fail.

    • Well, your prediction is the same as many predicted that iPhone will blatantly fail and iPad will also devastatingly fail. Remember what Steve Ballmer said about iPhone? “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a $500 subsidized item.”

  11. macnificentseven48 - 8 years ago

    How come I’m not privy to seeing far into the future like these people are? I can barely guess at a few months into the future and can’t accurately predict the weather even a couple of day in advance. Of course, we already know Munster isn’t able to predict anything about Apple from his constant talk about the coming of a full-sized AppleTV every year. I find it amazing these people can take themselves seriously. If these guys are so brilliant about predicting the future, why don’t they invest into their beliefs and retire from being analysts.

    I really wish Apple had gone into cloud services or something where business isn’t scrutinized like these Apple consumer products. I still think it’s stupid to value companies based on guessing games but that will obviously never change. Munster saying Apple will sell 40 million AppleWatches in 2017 could put him off by tens of millions. That’s a couple of years in advance and Munster’s only had a few months to see any trend in AppleWatch sales. He’d at least have to have the Christmas season under his belt to trend future sales.

  12. loungebob - 8 years ago

    What, no more Apple TV predictions? He’s got a new horse to beat to death now.

  13. rogifan - 8 years ago

    Apple’s most likely not going to provide sales figures so who cares what analysts predict? It’s not like we’ll have anything to compare their guesses to.

  14. taoprophet420 - 8 years ago

    The new iPod touch should have the watch app so you can use the Apple Watch with it.

  15. for once I actually agree with Munster.


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Benjamin develops iOS apps professionally and covers Apple news and rumors for 9to5Mac. Listen to Benjamin, every week, on the Happy Hour podcast. Check out his personal blog. Message Benjamin over email or Twitter.