According to consumer research firm The NPD Group, U.S. smartwatch sales experienced strong growth in the 12 months ended November 2018. Dollar sales of smartwatches were up 51 percent, totaling nearly $5 billion in sales. Unit sales, meanwhile, experience a 61 percent increase.
According to the report, 16 percent of U.S. adults now own a smartwatch, up from 12 percent in December of 2017. This jumps to 23 percent in the all-important 18-34 demographic. The report went on to call Apple Watch the “clear market leader,” but noted that the top three smartwatch brands: Apple, Fitbit, and Samsung) made up 88 percent of sales during the timeframe. But, the report pointed to traditional watch incumbents like Fossil, and fitness-focused brands like Garmin as potential challengers to the emerging dominant players.
Apple doesn’t break out sales of its Apple Watch from overall earnings, but CEO Tim Cook has touted its success in the wearables category, which also includes AirPods, saying wearables revenue was “approaching the size of a Fortune 200 company.”
How Many Watches Has Apple Sold?
I wondered about the total sales of the Apple Watch when the company released the Series 4 last year and I asked “What Even Is a Watch?” Apple had bragged a year prior that it was already the world’s largest watch brand by revenue, outselling Rolex. Estimates put Rolex’s revenue at $4.7 billion in 2016, so most likely north of $5 billion by now. $5 billion of Apple Watch sales at its customary $400 price point would put unit sales at 12.5 million per year. This is based off of a claim Tim Cook made at a 2017 Apple event, and based on NPD’s report, smart watch sales have grown 51% since then. Assuming the Apple Watch is growing in line with the rest of the industry (it’s likely growing even faster), this would put total Apple Watch units sold in 2018 at 18.75 million units. Because of the assumptions made, this is likely a conservative estimate (e.g. I’m assuming Apple just beat Rolex’s sales. For all we know, it could’ve blown them out of the water).
So yea, smart watches are a big deal. But mostly, the Apple Watch is a big deal.