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Apple will closely guard Apple Watch sales numbers in new reporting method

Starting the first quarter of its 2015 fiscal year, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company may not break out sales figures for the Apple Watch. By not disclosing exact sales numbers for Apple's nascent smartwatch, a typically secretive Apple would hope to gain a competitive advantage over competitors. Apple would employ a new way of reporting sales and earnings for its Apple Watch by categorizing it into a category marked "other" along with a few other products.

Despite being placed in an "other" position, Tim Cook reassured investors that this has nothing to do with the way the company views the Apple Watch or its importance:

It says nothing about our expectations about the product. I'm not very anxious in reporting a lot of numbers on Apple Watch and giving a lot of detail because competitors look for it.

Lumping the Apple Watch into a category named "other," Apple would be reporting sales of the smartwatch alongside numbers for Apple TV, headphones and accessories from Beats, and iPod sales.

What do you think of Apple's reporting strategy for what appears to be a very important product introduction in Apple's lineup?

16 Comments
  • Or they fear weak sales which is why they won't disclose the true amounts of the watch sales Sent from the iMore App
  • Are you a glass half empty kinda guy? ;)
  • Peter...he's pretty much right. Tim cook is hedging his bets in case it isn't a blockbuster smash hit like every Apple device "has to be," (notice quotes.)" By not reporting specific watch numbers, Tim takes this pressure off the company. And hey, if it is a smash hit, they can always release the numbers later on. It's smart strategy.
  • The only logical reason to put the watch sales data in the bin with "others" is because Apple are expecting low sales. If they were expecting it to be another iPhone, then you can bet they would be shouting about how many millions they had sold.
  • I think Apple's methods are smarter tactically. With the watch likely having a price point that varies between 399-3000 dollars, lumping the watch together with Apple TV and the Beats division will make it all but impossible to judge how many individual watches have been shipped.
  • Well, yes and no. If this is truly the next really big thing (which was Wall Street's hope for the device), then putting in the other category isn't going to disguise it much. After all, if you have something that sells on the order of the iPad or iPhone's performances on their 1.0 launches it would be clear that the category is the Apple Watch with a little bit of noise. So, presumably, since that would hide very little, I have to assume Apple is doing this to lower expectations. After all, if you truly wanted to "bury" the figure, putting it in with the iPhone (say call it "personal mobile devices") would seem a better choice and more likely to truly make it more difficult for competitors to figure out how many have been sold. And, frankly, lowering expectations might be a good thing. While I think there may be potential there, I don't think it will be in the first device. If nothing else, if the battery problem isn't solved (a big issue for those watches out there today aside from the e-ink Pebble) before launch I suspect the device will be "too much bother" until we get the battery issue solved. So it would be best if the press didn't declare it a winner or loser the first week out of the gate based on sales numbers. But, that said, express the press to use other criteria (in stock/out of stock, store traffic, supply chain, etc.) to work out rough numbers on sales. And, frankly, if there are lines out the doors and these things are flying off the shelves, I wouldn't be surprised to see Apple have a change of heart on the issue.
  • The reason for this to my mind is pretty obvious. They think it's possible that *initially* the sales figures could be tepid for such a new type of product which is quite fundamentally different from even the other "smart watches" out there. Just because they think it's possible that initial figures could be tepid, doesn't mean they think long term figures won't be good or even great. For a very new category of product they are making sure to give the sales figures a chance to find a more long term level before media passes judgement which media will be very eager to do starting from day one.
  • In addition, I think another factor is this: They make a gold plated version of it. Sales volume is not normally a factor that immediately enters from day one with products like that. It's a different market.
  • "...What do you think of Apple's reporting strategy for what appears to be a very important product introduction in Apple's lineup?..." That's easy to answer: Who cares? A rather trivial piece of info to consider newsworthy.
  • About time ... Google & Samsung and ALL the usual suspects've been hiding "it" since day 1!
  • I think it's a good move for Apple. Why should the competition get to know how the watch is doing it is pure business for Apple. Sent from the iMore App
  • I think they're obviously being vague to hide potentially low numbers, at least in comparison to analyst expectations. Apple makes phones and computers, etc. and doesn't "hide the numbers from competitors". It's a lame move IMHO Sent from the iMore App
  • The "competitive advantage" they speak of has another name. It's called "deceptive practices." The idea that competitors knowing the sales of the product is actually going to give them an advantage is pure BS. How exactly would that work? The only advantage it would give, is less ridicule and only given the circumstances of low or slow sales. It's not about competitive advantages, it's about being cagey and secretive in case of colossal failure or mistakes. Phrasing it as 'competitive advantage' is just a way of making it sound reasonable instead of what it really is, which is paranoid, cowardly, and deceptive.
  • BS. None of Apple's competitors report shipment figures. Amazon doesn't for Kindle devices, Microsoft doesn't for Surface. Samsung occasionally does it but not every quarter like Apple. Since the SEC doesn't require Apple to report individual product sales figures I wish they'd quit disclosing them for other products as well. If the competition isn't doing it why should Apple?
  • Well we know what "others" is right now and it should be pretty easy to extrapolate what it is in the coming quarters that's due to watch sales. I do think they are worried about the possible lackluster sales. Maybe someday when the iPad sales are really stale, they'll combine it with the iPhone into an iOS category. Sent from the iMore App
  • Or the converse strategy - they think it will be a smash, and putting it in "other" will give the "other" category a lift - making it seem like they're popping out Apple TVs, etc... at an amazing clip.